Saturday, July 11, 2009

Twitter vs. RSS: So Much for Superior Technology

I’m coming to the conclusion that RSS is the Betamax of the Web and Twitter the VHS.

Some of you old-timers will remember the infancy of VCRs, when Betamax and VHS were the two competing and incompatible formats. Many techies concluded that Betamax was the superior technology, but within a few years VHS's superior marketing made it the format of choice.

Although I still don’t like Twitter (as I made clear in my 140-character poem about why so many Twitterers quit), I have signed up for it because it seems to be the way many people keep up with favorite Web sites.

Don’t expect me to tweet every time I go to the bathroom or watch a TV show. (Note: Because D. Eadward Tree is a mythical person, he does not engage in such mundane and disgusting activities.)

I plan to use it mainly to notify followers of newly posted articles – and occasionally to seek information and advice.
But, frankly, I don’t see any reason to use Twitter rather than RSS to keep track of favorite Web sites.

It’s much easier to glance at a program like Google Reader to get a summary of updates at favorite Web sites than to scroll through a bunch of tweets and then click on the ones that you hope are relevant.Like VHS before it, however, Twitter is capturing the public’s attention despite the existence of a superior technology.

Twitter has the cute little bird logo that goes with its name, while RSS's logo is -- what the hell is that? Twitter is all over the mainstream media, recently making the cover of Time magazine and no doubt the magazine’s leading candidate for Bird of the Year. But the glitterati have decided that RSS is not worth discussing.

That’s such a shame, even for an old print dinosaur like me who didn’t know his RSS from a hole in the ground until a few months ago. Give it a try: Go to and click "Create an account" on the right to open a free account.

After you sign in, click the "Add a subscription" button on the upper left, then enter this: Now whenever you open Google Reader, you’ll get capsule views of Dead Tree Edition’s latest posts. But if you’d rather follow me via Twitter, here you go:


Dial H 4 Hero said...

I've been following your blog on Google Reader, but prefer Twitter for notifications. As long as you don't become a Twitter Sh***er, tweeting every trip to the grocery store, you'll be just fine. Thanks for creating an account.

F. Andy Seidl said...

I am a huge Twitter fan, but despite many predictions of the death of RSS and of the rising glory of Twitter, RSS ain't goin' away, folks. Like SMTP and COBOL, RSS is part of the fabric of computing.

I wrote more about this here:
The Death of RSS? Again?