RSS and its shortcomings

RSS syndication is a very useful technology that helps keeping track of hundreds of changing websites. With enclosure support it also enables fetching podcasts directly into your music player or software updates into the desktop.

Lately the way applications present available RSS feeds has started to unify, and companies like Microsoft have started to support RSS in their tools.

However, not everybody loves RSS. Only 4% of web uses it at the moment, and there are detractors too.

François Joseph de Kermadec says RSS stands for Really Stressful Syndication:

To me, the root of the issue is not to be found in how the technology is presented but in the technology itself. What does RSS allow us to do? It allows us to keep current, up to the second, on many matters, ranging from the state of our firewall to world news. This, however means RSS puts constant pressure on us. If I know Mac Minute has published a news item, I have to go and read it because it is my job but if I can forget about Mac Minute for an hour so, I can entertain the obviously false notion that I am on top of my material and comfortable in my own work. As long as my router does not warn me of a DoS attack going on, I do not have to worry about my network and can go downstairs grab that doughnut I have been thinking about.

And Paul Kedrosky complains about lack of synchronization and RSS being pull, not push:

Synchronization sucks. Despite using Feeddemon, which has a built-in synch across multiple PCs via Newsgator, my machines are not in synch. There are various feeds that the synched Feeddemon insists never contain items, despite there being items visible in the raw feed every day. The items are apparently being synched right out of existence.

However, I learned about these opinions through RSS. Without NetNewsWire it is unlikely I would’ve ever run into them.

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