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Twitter and Traditional RSS Are Complimentary, Not Competing, Technologies

January 28, 2010

Some argue that Twitter and Facebook are becoming the new form of RSS, and that RSS forever moving forward is a social phenomenon. The theory is that since you can follow what your friends are reading and watching, there’s no use for a Google Reader or even bothering to visit the homepage of, say, an nytimes.com to peruse headlines.  You friends will tweet content and share the link, bringing you right to it directly.

Some contend this method of social sharing will marginalize traditional search, RSS, and web-surfing in a big way. It’s also a more credible way to choose content: You trust your friends’ judgment better than that of an editor at some site who arranged the content a certain way, or Google’s algorithm returning crappy content that happened to have the proper keywords packed into a headline.

But saying we’ll have a full departure from RSS and traditional web surfing is just silly. How did your friends find the stuff in the first place? Maybe some of them passed it on from another friend and on to you, sure. But at the beginning of the line, the discovery process probably wasn’t social. The first point of discovery had to happen somewhere.

Social discovery is important. I encounter new things in my Activity Streams everyday, posted by friends and colleagues, that I naturally prioritize over other bits of content because I trust the person who shared it with me. But at a certain point, we can’t be so lazy as to not seek this stuff out on our own occasionally.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. January 28, 2010 7:44 pm

    To me it’s all about time. “Surfing the net” was something I did with great enjoyment up through ’05 and as information gathering took up more and more time RSS feeds helped speed things up. But soon I found myself burning up hours going through my feeds. Enter sites like http://www.reddit.com/ or /g/ that made surfing more social and seemed to point me in the direction of things I found interesting. Still, social sites are like shotguns that capture the most interesting out of many hits. Twitter accounts on the other hand are like sniper rifles directing me straight to the source of specific points or people of interest. Twitter is quick and stuffed to the gills with things I am interested in. Hence me finding this post by just glancing up for a moment.

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