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Twitter and RSS – Peas in a Pod

Image representing Steve Gillmor as depicted i... 

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Fans of Steve Gillmor’s Gillmor Gang podcast will know that he’s had a bee in his bonnet about “real time” for quite a while now.  In Steve’s world, communication on the web must be instantaneous.  Post to a blog, and it should be instantly indexed and accessible on Google, Feedburner, and any other property that distributes content.

Amen to that.

Yesterday Steve suggested that RSS – the syndication system that powers the web today – is dead.  He writes:

It’s time to get completely off RSS and switch to Twitter. RSS just doesn’t cut it anymore. The River of News has become the East River of news, which means it’s not worth swimming in if you get my drift.

I haven’t been in Google Reader for months. Google Reader is the dominant RSS reader. I’ve done the math: Twitter 365 Google Reader 0. All my RSS feeds are in Google Reader. I don’t go there any more. Since all my feeds are in Google Reader and I don’t go there, I don’t use RSS anymore.

But RSS is not dead. It’s true that RSS hasn’t been the mechanism by which news stories break for some time now.  However, not all news is “real time”.  Some of it’s analysis and opinion that can, and perhaps should be consumed after the fact.

To say that RSS is dead is to say that the only television worth watching is CNN News.  All Anderson, all Sanjay, all Larry, all the time. 

Twitter has its place as a fabulous announcement and conversation mechanism.  It’s a river of information, and RSS readers can’t touch it there.  RSS readers, however, are the superior means to aggregate and consume information. 


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{ 3 comments… add one }

  • Gary Hilson May 6, 2009, 5:30 am

    Who the heck is Steve Gillmor? And why should I care what he thinks?

    I'd give up Twitter and Tweetdeck long before I would give up Google Reader and RSS.

  • Geoff May 6, 2009, 4:30 pm

    Alec, I couldn't agree with Gary more (second sentence anyway)!

    To dust off the old cliches…Twitter is a mile wide and an inch deep.

    And, as usual, someone much smarter than me explained the situation effectively (yet another reason to never abandon the RSS feeds).

    Twitter helps me discover some interesting new things or track an active meme, but there are some deep thinkers out there who I like to keep track of. Without RSS this is a tough job. Using Twitter to do it – impossible.

    • Alec May 6, 2009, 5:41 pm

      Thanks for that link Geoff. Well worth a read.

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