RSS microblogging vs Twitter et al

You know the thing that puzzles me about services like Twitter and Jaiku et al, sometimes referred to as microblogging applications, is that you have to use a central server or service to create and distribute your Tweets or microbloglets or whatever-you-call-thems only to have them converted to RSS and syndicated. Why not just use RSS in the first place? You could create a lightweight RSS client that outputs your status, one-liner pearls of wisdom, or anything else you wish to tell your ‘friends’ about. Bake it into weblog or email or news-feed clients and you’re away. The beauty of using RSS is that everyone’s stream is distributed rather than collected at a central point, or bottle-neck as it sometimes becomes.

The benefit of a single service access point I guess is that it makes it easier to find new sources or feeds, but there are so many ways of finding RSS feeds that a distributed rather than centralised approach would be no problem. So what value do services like Twitter add? I guess that until we get better RSS clients – that is RSS creators rather than RSS aggregators – then the likes of Twitter offer client applications. But if we started to get other kinds of clients based upon RSS then just imagine the possibilities. You could syndicate your status and other Twitter-like info, but also mobile data, email, calendars, and in an educational context learning activities, reading lists, portfolios, lots of stuff. Of course you can syndicate a lot of this now but only via dedicated clients apps like purpose-built calendering service, VLEs, etc. An RSS client agnostic to content based around the triumvirate of title, description and link (plus attachment of it makes sense to add a file) would be a very flexible tool indeed.

I had a similar thought 5 years ago and created a simple tool back then for Radio UserLand. The tool is still available though I doubt it works now, and I don’t have a copy of Radio to try it.

11 thoughts on “RSS microblogging vs Twitter et al”

  1. David. … I still use RadioUserland, Manila, but I use them with MarsEdit. …

    Anyway, I just downloaded your tool, installed it, and it seems to work fine. … Not really sure, but there seemed to be no errors and the page cme back with a trail.

    Jack

  2. I agree — it’s hard for me as a techie to see RSS as being complex enough that a simplified version is actually useful and not just hype. I think there’s some comfort in creating an account rather than a full blog…I have an unexplained assumption in my mind that I can keep up with an account, but that I’ll eventually abandon a blog.

  3. Hi Dave,

    Long time and all that, but just thought I would extend the arm of support for this kind of thinking. As I am sure you remember Tom Heath and myself have long held the opinion that RSS was a lot more than just for news feed. Thats 6 years ago now.

    Incredibly, I am due to give an introductory tutorial to the research staff in our school this Friday, no one even knows what it is!

    Something I have started to play with a lot recently is Drupal. The support for RSS creation (as a transparent part of practically any kind of content creation process) is pretty comprehensive and probably worth a look – warning – the learning curve is pretty steep. The only thing I can suggest is temporarily forgetting everything you know about programming and think point and click.

    Hope yer well, and Happy Birthday
    Steve

  4. While I agree with you on RSS feeds, I have a hard time managing them and creating them with my phone. As a result, I use CellSpin. Honestly, Cellspin is the easiest, FREE, and can do all 4 media types on the go. I love being able to post videos of my daughter while I’m in the supermarket with her. I was worried my phone was not supported but they have over 300 phones supported. Better yet, they support LJ, Flickr, Facebook, Myspace, and many other popular Web 2.0 companies. Last I knew, I couldn’t do that with my RSS feeds.

  5. Yes I agree that we need better RSS creation tools, or rather more tools that support RSS as an output format.

    Nice plug for Cellspin 🙂

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