RSS is dead and Facebook and Twitter killed it! Or at least that’s what some web & trend-watching bloggers conclude from the demise of Bloglines, the once cutting-edge web-based feedreader. And indeed, people are increasingly discovering news items and memes through their friends’ status updates, re-tweeting or -sharing stuff they deem interesting. And yes Flipboard, which scans your Facebook & Twitter feeds for links (scraping content from the pages instead of using feeds, to the dismay of some publishers), is the talk of the iTown. Look ma, no RSS!
But hold your horses; do you know what the most requested feature for Flipboard is? Integration with Google Reader and the ability to include RSS-feeds is in high demand as well! And while we’re at it, Google Reader seems not to be doing too bad either, according to their own stats, probably because Reader -as opposed to Bloglines- continuous to evolve, integrating a slew of social features. Reader is also the primary source for Feedly, a popular browser add-on that offers a magazine-like view on subscribed feeds. And proving RSS is not dead yet, Automattic last week launched Subscriptions on wordpress.com, which displays your subscribed feeds in a stream-like fashion, including the writer’s profile picture and a ‘reblog’ and ‘like’ button (i.e. resembling what Peter Van Dijck proposed earlier that day).
Even if RSS-readers would ever become marginalized, RSS and similar standardized XML-based newsfeeds (think Atom) are indispensable to syndicate content from one site in another application. After all, how do you think news outlets and blogs feed their content into Twitter and Facebook in the first place?