Jakob Nielson Needs Help With RSS

I’ve just been reading Jakob Nielsen’s thoughts on RSS over at the WSJ. I know Jeremiah has already weighed-in with his thoughts, but I wanted to add mine too.

I’m not going to rip into Nielsen, he knows more about web design than most, but he does seem somewhat confused about RSS.

Exhibit A – “So one of the real strong recommendations is to stop calling it ‘RSS’ and start calling it ‘news feeds,’ because that explains what it does.”

Beal says – “News feeds” really doesn’t do RSS justice. You can use RSS for many reasons beyond “news” – for example REI uses RSS for it’s Outlet deal of the day. Maybe “web feed” would be a better alternative.

Exhibit B – “The email newsletter comes to you; it arrives in your in box, and becomes part of the one place you go to get information. That’s the great strength…The best newsletters really drive customer relationships.”

Beal says – Newsletters are boring. They come in one long email and are nearly always a “one-way” conversation. RSS delivers info in small bites, on-demand, targeted and encourages “two-way” communication.

Exhibit C – “[Blogs] work only for the people who are most fanatic, who are engaged so much that they will go and check out these blogs all the time.”

Beal says – Actually, the whole point of RSS is that you don’t have to “check out these blogs all of the time”.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/12722037 Nathan Gilliatt

    Besides, “news feed” already means something else, not that most people would know that. Hmm, Wikipedia agrees with Nielsen’s usage. Way to make me feel like an old-timer, guys. Did I ever tell about how we did things before all these fancy GUIs were invented? How about teletype terminals with a 300/1200 baud switch? (Is this where I say, “Harumph”? I’m new to this curmudgeon thing…)