So I’m about to curl into bed with a movie on my iPad last night when I notice a flurry of Tweets from the “father of blogging,” Dave Winer, going off on a TechCrunch post declaring that Facebook and Twitter are “Killing RSS.”
Now I can’t resist a good old fashioned Twitter duel, especially involving some big names in tech today, so I paused my movie and grabbed some popcorn to watch a different kind of show.
Winer called out TechCrunch and its founder, Michael Arrington, was pressed to respond:
Soon after, former Microsoft employee and current “tech evangelist,” Robert Scoble, was dragged into the argument as well:
There’s a lot more catty quotes to find if you go to each person’s Twitter feed and dig deeper, but you should get the gist from these two screengrabs. (We wish that there was a better way to show you the full story, but at least New Twitter has some threading capability.)
Listen, I hate sensationalist talk about “<insert tech here> dying.” While it may be true that Google Reader has dropped in traffic referral ranking to TechCrunch, the notion that the technology is being “killed” is absurd. As any avid RSS subscriber will tell you, clicking through to the site is only done when feeds are incomplete and there are compelling posts to read. Perhaps TechCrunch’s subscribers are finding less interesting articles to click through on. Or another explanation might be that the boom of Twitter and Facebook users have outgrown RSS subscriber usage so much that they’ve pushed down RSS in the referral rankings. Make no mistake, RSS is still a useful technology. It’s just woefully explained to the average internet user. I’m pretty sure that a lot of people who would find RSS useful don’t even have the opportunity to give it a shot because of that.
The point is that all TechCrunch’s data really shows is a comparison of the different sites that refer people to the site. It doesn’t necessarily mean that a technology is “dying.”
At the same time, it’s obvious to see that Winer clearly has a horse to back in this race as he helped develop RSS to begin with. Depending on where your priorities lie, you could dismiss him as an idealistic fool or laud him as a champion for an “open web.” Either way, it’s clear his ranting last night were the byproduct of passion for his project.
Personally, I couldn’t live without RSS feeds in keeping up with all the content I need. There is no way Twitter or Facebook could replace what RSS does for me. I’d like to see anyone try to read and/or create any sort of in-depth content posts with a 140 character limit or within Facebook.
I can definitely use all of these sources in conjunction without one “killing off” another. They’re each tools good for uses in certain situations. Just because I’m currently working on a project that requires more use out of my screwdriver than hammer doesn’t mean that the hammer is a “dead” tool.
At the end of the day, I believe @xeyr summarized this whole affair best with this tweet:
So @davewiner has a rant, @arrington is a bit of a dick in reply and @Scobleizer retweets everything and adds nothing. #twitter #news