Back in the day, we would bookmark a site we wanted to return to. Today, we should be adding the feed to our reader.
RSS feeds embody the free spirit of the internet that we are so quickly losing. Now, this is just off the top of my head, using my experiences with people in general as the basis. ( I don’t do any formal research because I don’t have the wherewithal and we all know that once you begin observing something, you have already tainted the results.) People just don’t ‘get’ what a feed reader is, how to use it, or why it is so wonderful.
The general public is still going to websites for their information: blogs, news portals, social sites, etc. I’m not saying that going to websites is useless, I’m just saying that a much more efficient and controlled method of accessing information exists. For example, I don’t ‘do’ the news. It’s just plain yucky and depressing. I do like to keep up on certain topics like technology and nutrition, but I am hesitant to do so if I have to visit a website with questionable ads and obscene headlines. When I visit a site, I am at the mercy of what they put on the page – at the mercy of what they display in front of my face. I have to wade through the muck to get to the shreds of information that I want. This frustrating because it wastes time and makes me a marketing pawn.
The answer is so simple. If I take the feed from just the technology section of the news portal and put it in my Google Reader, I don’t have those problems, plus it keeps track of what I have already read and gives me only the newest information. Doing this for most of the topics I want to read gives me one place to take in all my information, too. So no more going down the list of bookmarks in my browser, opening 50 tabs, waiting for each page to load, and wading through the muck on each page. And it’s free.
So what is it about readers that most people don’t understand? I think it is the layered effect. Technology is intimidating to most people, and if they have to think more than two layers deep, the mental effort it isn’t worth the results that they don’t understand in the first place. (No, really. Why are Twitter, YouTube and Google so popular? They’re one layer deep. Yes, they can get deeper, but you have to do so purposefully.)
- The first layer would be getting to a website for the information we want. That, most people can do.
- The next layer would be knowing if a feed is available and how to access it. Now we’re thinning out the audience.
- The third layer is knowing what a reader is and how to add a feed. Hear the crickets chirping?
- Fourth, using the reader to access the information (which then results in relearning the concept of layer number one – changing our browsing habits – and that’s the part that creates the most resistance.)
As usual, if you want control, you have to have the knowledge to gain that control.