At the top of Hacker News this morning is a dirge mourning the end of RSS support on the web:
The good news is that there’s at least one thing that Facebook, Apple, Twitter and (to a lesser extent so far) Google seem to agree on. The bad news is that it’s that RSS, one of the beacons of openness on the internet, is the enemy.
Social protocols are replacing RSS. In my view, Twitter and Facebook are better versions of RSS. First, they reach many more people. It’s easier to “follow” something than to subscribe to an RSS feed (has a bit of a medical ring to it, no?).
Second, these social streams provide an additional social filter to the news, something that RSS news never did. These social filters also provide a layer to comment, share and discuss, which is another feature altogether missing in RSS.
Lastly, social streams avoid the challenge most RSS readers faced: the inbox with 1000+ items to read and no way to sift through them. Social streams create a time value decay function for this data. Facebook’s EdgeRank uses a combination of different signals to ensure relevancy so when users login the feed is only timely, relevant content, not an inbox of every status update and share. Twitter uses time to reduce the number of items in the feed.
Overall, these social streams are a fantastic evolution of a technology that was initially geared toward techies. Now everyone can enjoy the benefits.