Dave Johnson on open web technologies, social software and Java
I missed it when it came out at the start of the month, but Yahoo's RSS whitepaper RSS -- Crossing into the Mainstream presents some very interesting numbers.
Somebody, and I can't remember who it was, said that RSS/Atom newsfeeds won't be widely accepted until they are invisible. That makes a lot of sense to me. I've had a very difficult time convincing my (computer savvy) friends and family to use newsfeed readers. The Yahoo numbers back that idea up. Of the 31% of online users that use RSS, 27% are unaware of RSS.
According to the study, My Yahoo! is the most widely used RSS aggregator around. The reasons for that? First, My Yahoo! itself is popular and second, My Yahoo! makes RSS invisible. You don't "subscribe to RSS newsfeeds with your aggregator" -- nobody knows what that means. Instead, you just "Add to My Yahoo!" and you do it secure in the knowledge that you can opt-out at any time by pressing that little X button on your My Yahoo! page.
Newsgator is another company that's working to make RSS invisible. Newsgator's enterprise newsfeed server has MS Exchange integration so that administrators can direct newsfeeds right into folders in MS Outlook without the end-users doing anything or even knowing that RSS is involved.
So, RSS ain't simple. For most users, the way to make RSS palatable is to make it go away.
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