[WEB4LIB] Re: RSS - A solution to too much email???

D.H. Mattison dmattison at shaw.ca
Thu Feb 17 00:22:24 EST 2005

There's a lot of confusion over what RSS is and does. Unlike Usenet, which
is still popular, on the Web and interactive, and unlike e-mail, RSS by
itself is non-interactive and a one-way street. You can't, however, as with
e-mail, Usenet or other Web discussion boards, reply to a RSS feed item. RSS
is essentially a distribution or publishing medium. There may be some
benefit from turning e-mail into RSS because you're encoding in XML and you
can do some nifty things with XML, so in theory and probably even now in
practice, folks are using RSS in practical ways to manage the information

RSS was also repurposed by the blogging community into an indirect two-way
communications medium, and that's I think where a lot of the confusion about
it being an interactive format comes from. Bloggers, for example, subscribe
to a few or a lot of RSS feeds and they in turn may blog or post information
copied or gleaned from these RSS feeds. But that's all they can do with the
RSS feed. The actual interaction that occurs in a blog happens through the
commenting system, which is similar to a Web discussion board. And because
of the way in which commmenting was implemented in some blog applications
like Movable Type and WordPress, comment spam evolved. Although RSS is free
from spam, there are RSS feeds that include paid advertising, so it's not
quite the ideal ad-free medium it's sometimes made out to be.

You're right that switching to RSS won't help you get a handle on the
information flood. It's all a matter of personal choice. Just as everything
isn't and will never be available on e-mail, so too will a lot of
information never be encoded in an RSS feed. Sort of like listening to radio
all the time and never experiencing TV, or watching TV all the time and
abandoning radio. You'll have to pick and choose carefully and decides what
works most effectively for you.

David Mattison
Victoria, BC, Canada
dmattison at shaw.ca
Tiki Wiki Hut: http://www.davidmattison.ca/tiki
Ten Thousand Year Blog: http://www.davidmattison.ca/wordpress

-----Original Message-----
From: web4lib at webjunction.org
[mailto:web4lib at webjunction.org]On Behalf Of Athena Hoeppner
Sent: February 16, 2005 4:34 PM
To: Multiple recipients of list
Subject: [WEB4LIB] Re: RSS - A solution to too much email???

I often complain that I get too much email - but switching to RSS wont
help me absorb the deluge of information.

Maybe I'm missing something, but RSS seems awfully similar to Usenet,
except more popular and on the web.  :-\


Athena Hoeppner
Electronic Resources Librarian
athena at mail.ucf.edu    (407)823-5049

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