…RSS and podcasting have changed the way people consume media, giving them more say in what they want to see and hear.
RSS constantly scans the contents of your favourite websites or blogs and then broadcasts those updates to you through a feed.
Through this method, frequently updated websites can easily syndicate their content, and web users can also get updated information from their favourite sites or blogs automatically served up on their desktops.
Internet executive Vanessa Tan, 27, explained: ‘It’s a very convenient tool for those people who like information overload.’
‘Instead of having to plough through a long list of webpages, I get updated by the tons of news feeds by just logging onto Bloglines.’
Yes, I like ‘information overload’ sometimes, although I am seriously considering cutting down on quantity and focusing on content. In fact, I had just cancelled my long-standing account with Audible.com because of the availability of free podcasts now.
Also, even if only several percent of online users do read blogs, use RSS and podcasts, they are also part of a very important, and growing, online community (that’s you!). Every trend has its ‘early adopters’. So I’m not too sure about the ‘cautious’ tone, as reported, by the professor:
Assistant professor Lim Sun Sun from the National University of Singapore’s Communications and New Media Programme cautioned that while RSS and podcasting have caught on with bloggers and blogging enthusiasts, most web users are still unaware of the technology.
According to a survey by Forrester Research, only six per cent of online users read blogs and two per cent use RSS.
Dr Lim explained that many users are deterred by the effort needed to set-up their computers to receive such a service.
She said: ‘Over time, the popularity of RSS and podcasting will grow. But for now, they don’t ease themselves into existing user patterns, so there are high barriers to entry.’
It misses the point. There will always be a segment of the population who haven’t ‘done something’ yet, or may not do it at all. Some may not drive a car. But we still cater to the needs of drivers, as well as non-drivers. It’s not that non-users are being forced to adopt the technology, but that existing users get to benefit with added feeds.
On that note, I was glad to learn a few months ago that the Gahmen mothership site, www.gov.sg, has started its own news feed already – isn’t that a positive step?
In fact, the Poynter Institute has a recent article on RSS for journalists – who probably take on the biggest information overload as they look for newsworthy stories. The writer uses – what else but – Bloglines as an example of managing feeds.