The retirement of Google Reader has left RSS users lost and wondering: is RSS becoming obsolete? Read on to learn the future of Really Simple Syndication.

Is RSS Dead?!

Mon Sep 30, 2013

The recent retirement of Google Reader has left RSS users lost and the rest of us wondering: is RSS becoming obsolete?

RSS (Really Simple Syndication) is a standardized format for displaying webpage data. Instead of having to check a series of sites for updates and information, users simply refer to an RSS Feed. The feed is an aggregation of various articles and other content exported from whatever sites the user wants updates on. This way, the content is streamlined down to be exactly what the user wants to see and minimizes the amount of items on screen, delivering only the essentials. In the first decade of the new millennium, it was an elegant solution for navigating web content.

But things change. Specifically a paradigm that snuck up on me and perhaps a few others: mobile computing. As a major desktop gaming geek, I always had (and still do) envisioned myself with a large desktop for home and personal use. But with the arrival and nearly instant success of smartphones and other portable devices, the way we view information on screen has had to swiftly adapt. One would think the stripped down data from an RSS feed would be ideal for touch screen devices. But it would appear that this is not the case.

While Google's deprecation of Reader has created a vacuum in the RSS world, the void is not as large as expected. In fact, RSS has been in a silent decline 2010 (in my mind, the year the smart phone began to boom).

Considering that Google occupied nearly 60% of the RSS market in 2007, the cessation of support for Reader is hardly surprising, and only shocked those loyal to the RSS format.

But there is a piece of the story missing still – if not RSS, what are users turning to for content management?

Facebook, Twitter and others have all become very skilled at delivering not only the content you wanted to see, but also additional content that the RSS feed would never have delivered. With the options to link just about every major media article or popular site to Reddit, Digg, Facebook, Twitter, and others, the barriers that used to exist between web content hosted on different sites have become permeable. No longer do we need to gather the specific content we want. Now it’s gathered for us (mostly).

Does this mean the end of RSS? Maybe. There will always be a demand for streamlined content in some areas. But it looks like this is going to result in a paradigm shift, whether it introduces a new format for content gathering or improves upon what RSS delivers, as Feedly is actively working on. But until the shift is made, be prepared to continue to support RSS as well as any emerging “standards” so that people can continue to subscribe to your content in the format of their choice.

Tell us what you think will be the future of RSS. Have you already moved on to different feed readers? Are you over RSS completely? Let us know in the comments.

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