To replace email, RSS has to become brain dead simple to use

Fred Wison: “And as much as I’d like to see RSS replace email, it’s just not going to happen overnight. RSS has to become brain dead simple to use.”

(Explanation: Fred is respsonding to Steve Rubel.)

Update: Dave Winer says: “What RSS must do to break through.” Robert Scoble responds: RSS has already broken through.

What I say:

I don’t believe RSS has “broken through.” I’m dumbfounded by how few non-techy people I know use newsreaders. They seem comfortable enough using the Web by surfing websites and getting email and using Google for search (methods that have become, as Fred desribes them, “drain dead simple”).

My primary relationship with the web is through an RSS newsreader that allows me to have the information I want seek me. I rarely use a web browser except when using search. I never “surf” or “browse.” Never. (It’s almost incomprehensible to people when I tell them I can post to this weblog and track what’s on it without ever actually visiting it via a web browser, something I rarely do except to check out if some formatting is working.)

When it comes to my use of the Web, I want information and insight and knowledge and entertainment to seek me. I don’t want to browse for it. I don’t have time to surf for it. When necessary, I will search for it. But in a perfect world, it comes looking for me.

That’s what RSS does for me.

Unfortunately, how I use the Web is not brain-dead simple. I’m not a technical person (although Nick Bradbury claims to have proof that I’m a geek). Understanding RSS — more specifically, understanding how to “subscribe” to a Real Simple Syndicated feed — took me a while to get my head around and to fully understand how to access, organize and fully appreciate. Fortunately, I took the time and effort to do so four or five years ago.

Today, I can’t imagine not using RSS. Frankly, for me, not using RSS would be brain dead.

  • Jon Henshaw

    Brain dead people use it everyday without knowing it — every time they click on an “add to my yahoo!” link. Eventually the brain dead sweet spot will be found. It will either be some sort of meld between a news aggregator and email app (like Thunderbird) or a news aggregator and browser app like Safari. For now, it’s Bloglines and NetNewsWire for me — both of which are closely tied to the browser (Bloglines is in the browser, while NetNewsWire uses Webcore).

  • Ted Gilchrist

    Hi Rex,

    How about “calling RSS”?

    PIN Access (800) 289-5570 then PIN: 9991251995
    Skype VoIP +99000936 9991251995

    I’m playing with the idea of having some of my “Botcast buddies” on speed dial, so to speak.

    Ted (the Robot Guy, again)

  • Hudge

    Being a BDP, I say, different keystrokes for different pholks.