Posted June 22, 2006 11:22 am by with 1 comment

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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”.

  • 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…)