I’ve noticed that I’m using RSS feeds less and less often lately. Sure, I still have hundreds of feeds in Google Reader, but I’ve gone from checking them daily to weekly to I can’t remember when I last checked them. It’s not just because I’m busier. I’m getting a lot of the information I used to get via RSS from social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter. I used to look for the bright orange RSS icon to follow blogs, but now I look first for the little Twitter bird or the Facebook F. I’m just starting a new blog project (more on that soon), and I suppose I will need to create Facebook and Twitter accounts for it.
It seems I’m not alone – and this change is not without consequences, according to Ken Varnum at RSS4Lib. We’re moving from an open standard to mediated discovery. And it’s not just that people aren’t using RSS. It’s becoming more and more difficult for the consumer to find.
Ironically, I did find Ken’s post using my RSS feed reader.
How do you follow blogs?
Feed2JS has posted a personal ad. Adam Levine is hoping that someone out there will take over maintenance and improvements for Feed2JS.
Finding Feed2JS when my library was developing a blog was a lifesaver. We knew that most of our patrons would never go to the blog site or subscribe to the feeds, so getting the blog content onto sites they were visiting was critical. We have installed Feed2JS on our server and use it to put content on our library web site, as well as on web pages on our parent organization’s site.
I hope that Feed2JS finds a good match!
Roddy MacLeod provides an update on (and a little peek into the future of) RSS in the latest FreePint Newsletter. MacLeod is, among other things, involved in the ticTOCs journal table of contents project. He envisions a day when we no longer have to explain “What is RSS?” because subscribing to a feed has become seamless.
I think a lot of new technologies follow a similar path. They come out, a few techie types embrace them, and then if they start to catch on, the technology becomes more or less invisible. Think of HTML. I remember taking classes on HTML, and we’d painstakingly hand-code simple pages showing our resumes or photos of our pets. Today, those kinds of pages can be created using point-and-click interfaces with little or no knowledge of HTML. Of course, the code is still there, underneath it all (and I’m glad I know it), but most users don’t need to think about it.
One of our most time-consuming services at my library is collecting and aggregating journal tables of contents for our faculty, so they don’t have to subscribe to individual feeds or email alerts. If ticTOCs accomplishes its mission, we could simply direct them to that site and they could set up one feed with all of the tables of contents, and we could focus on other things (like finding money to continue subscribing to the journals so they can actually read the articles).