RSS and mainstream adoption

Louis Gray shared this great commentary by Brian Clark on Google Reader (via Friendfeed) today. Brian is perplexed why RSS hasn’t gone mainstream yet.

Email still has its problems, and they’re not getting any better. But the public at large either doesn’t care about RSS, or doesn’t know they’re using it (a la My Yahoo, etc).

Many technology (product) evangelists get too hung up on the technology and miss the point, which is – technology is a means to an end, not the end unto itself. In this case, it’s the need for information that’s important and the underlying technology itself is irrelevant, unless you are the developer. Even if RSS goes ‘mainstream’ (if it hasn’t already), will folks know it as RSS? Does it really matter?

Brian goes on to say,

That’s why I’m happy to see projects like Guy Kawasaki’s Alltop. It’s completely powered by RSS feeds, but it’s all behind the curtain. People want access to information… they don’t care about the underlying technology.

I couldn’t agree more. I think the fundamental question here is – What drives adoption of any technology in the mainstream? Prominent technology bloggers, innovators, early adopters play a critical role in creating awareness for new technologies. They are akin to early explorers of uncharted territories, blazing trails to exciting new worlds.

However, not everyone is keen on swimming across crocodile-infested waters for thrills. The masses need a bridge. The ‘bridge-builders’ are folks like Guy Kawasaki who are developing easy-to-use applications/sites aimed at fulfilling a need.

And as long as the car can go 0-60mph in (insert desired number here) seconds, does the average Joe Schmoe really care what’s under the hood? I highly doubt it.

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2 responses to “RSS and mainstream adoption

  1. Nice post Mia. I haven’t been checking out Guy’s site much – I have a lot of those feeds in my Google Reader!

    The thing an RSS reader gives is control to the user. And the RSS feeds are persistent and searchable.

    But not everyone wants to bother with adding feeds to a reader. So pre-packaged RSS feeds like Alltop are good for a broader consumer segment.

  2. Thanks, Hutch! 🙂

    Facebook has become the de facto aggregator for all my feeds, which is mainly Friendfeed and Twitter. I am not a geek (stealing your line) either, so I am always on the lookout for the fastest and easiest way to consume information. A very mainstream notion for sure aka sheer laziness 😉

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