First Google Wave, then Vox, and now Bloglines. Ask.com recently announced that they were putting the RSS reader to rest, and we can't help but wonder if this is the official beginning of the end of the format.
Ask.com president Doug Leeds officially announced the ousting of Bloglines on September 10th. Shutdown is scheduled for October 1. Leeds admits the decision to cut Bloglines out of the picture was not an easy one, but ultimately the best move given business reasons.
Ask.com originally acquired Bloglines in 2005, when, as Leeds put it, "RSS was in its infancy." Fast-forward to today and the hype around information delivery has transferred over to more social methods, such as Twitter and Facebook.
"The Internet has undergone a major evolution," he wrote in Ask.com's official announcement. "The real-time information RSS was so astute at delivering (primarily, blog feeds) is now gained through conversations, and consuming this information has become a social experience. ...Today RSS is the enabling technology – the infrastructure, the delivery system. RSS is a means to an end, not a consumer experience in and of itself. As a result, RSS aggregator usage has slowed significantly, and Bloglines isn’t the only service to feel the impact.. The writing is on the wall. "
The Death of RSS
Is the writing on the wall? Bloglines fans, including Melissa Ford of BlogHer, would like to think that it isn't. "While I certainly click on links that come in from Twitter, Facebook, or StumbleUpon, I'm still more likely to catch a blog post if it comes in my feed reader," she wrote. "...am I the norm, or am I just one of the old Internet dinosaurs, not changing with the tide?"
Others seem just as disenchanted as Leeds. "I thought I’d miss RSS once Twitter took over, remembering how powerful a wave of innovation it triggered," said TechCrunch's Steve Gillmore back in May. "Certainly it’s still here, burned into the circuits of the network, the memes coursing through its veins. But in the age of abundance it fostered, the core value has shifted from inspiration to the inspired, to the people behind the ideas."
The truth is that the decision to scrap Bloglines has been expected for over a year now, indicating that RSS has been on its way out for a long time. In addition to a long streak without updates, Bloglines has suffered multiple outages in recent times.
Google Reader remains the dominant player in the Web-based RSS reader market, and so far there's been no talk of killing it off. After Wave's sudden termination, however, we can't be too careful.
If an RSS reader is something you plan to continue using, fight the good fight by telling us why in the comments section below.