You may have been hearing the news that RSS is dead every so often. But the protocol for sharing and syndicating content is quite resilient, and is still a popular means of distributing content. However, with Facebook disabling RSS importing in its Notes feature, is this yet another proverbial nail in the coffin for RSS?
Feed Syndication No Longer Built-In Feature
RSS — or really simple syndication, rich site summary, RDF site summary, or whichever acronym is applicable to you — is reportedly dying a slow death, with the emergence of social networking and content curation as the preferred means of sharing content. Readers are becoming smarter with the content that they consume, and rather than blindly read articles, videos and other media from pre-set sources, content is now delivered based on social recommendations, as well as algorithms that can help determine what a reader might find interesting.
Among the services favoring social content curation is Facebook, with the popularity of shared wall posts, content in Pages and posts in Notes. Facebook has recently made some changes to the way it publishes content on Notes, and the old way of importing posts through RSS has been deprecated.
Starting November 22, this feature will no longer be available, although you'll still be able to write individual notes. The best way to share content from your website is to post links on your timeline."
Facebook previously allowed users an easy way to sync blog content with their Facebook accounts through the Notes setting. Adding the blog URL would retrieve the feeds and re-post these to Facebook as updates were published. With the new system, users will have to manually copy over content they want to share into the Notes interface. This way, Facebook says, users can better customize how the text and image look like, for a more optimal experience for the target audience.
A Better User Experience for Readers?
Facebook is likely making an effort to encourage users to customize the content experience for their readers. While third-party syndication providers such as NetworkedBlogs and TweetDeck can still support the same automatic-posting functionality to Facebook, earlier evidence suggests that this is ineffective in engaging an audience. Auto-posting of content from one's RSS feed often leads to fewer Likes and comments.
But is RSS still alive and kicking? Curated content applications have been growing in popularity lately, and these include mobile-centric apps such as Flipboard and Zite, which serve content based on user preference and friend recommendations. Even Google is reportedly planning its own app for curated content, with an effort called Propeller, while Yahoo has also announced plans for an app called Livestand. And yet Google has launched a revamped, redesigned Google Reader, complete with a social recommendation engine powered by Google+. As such, RSS remains relevant for as long as the protocol remains actively used in distributing content, and as long as users will find a way to promote their RSS-pulled content alongside social means.