Mario Sundar's Speakeasy

Spero Ventures. Early LinkedIn, Twitter. These are my thoughts on tech, brand, marketing and community.

Jakob Nielsen hates RSS!

Self-proclaimed and universally acknowledged web-usability guru, Jakob Nielsen categorically stated his dislike for some of the newer-fangled content distribution mechanisms such as RSS in his recent interview for WSJ. But why?

Here’s what he said (italicized) and what I think

(i) RSS is not well-recognized. 82% don’t know about it. “News feeds” are better.

That’s understandable and maybe it’s the right time to start calling it something more understandable such as “web syndication” or “news feeds” or whatever seems to connote the right ideas.

(ii) Jakob prefers newsletters to RSS news feeds

Now, this I don’t get; nor do I agree with because it’s flawed and confusing. All the qualities that Jakob cites as reasons for email newsletter adoption, actually ring truer for RSS news feeds.

By his own admission, the best content dissemination mechanisms have got to be
Timely – Check
Targeted – Check
Very Good – Check

Actually, RSS newsfeeds have a great way to provide targeted information than email newsletters. Since LONG newsletters are off-putting to your customers. Imagine, if you’d a way of breaking that further into categories/newsfeeds your target audiences would like. Actually, the next version of RSS is iRSS or individualized RSS which takes “targeted” to a new level. Check out Paul Dunay’s post on iRSS recently.

(iii) When the interviewer stated that blogs could do the same here’s Jakob’s response:

Certainly you can have blogs that function as newsletters, updated on a regular basis. But they don’t tend to do that. They don’t tend to have that same sort of publishing discipline: having a publication schedule and surveying this week’s or this day’s events. They could, of course, but they don’t tend to.

Most business-related, corporate newsletters I know of have a frequency of around one-two a month while most tech bloggers, blog religiously once or twice a day!!!

Jeremiah asks the right questions in his lead-in to this post a couple of days ago. I also happened to see J on techmeme today (albeit briefly..well no, look he’s still there) and look forward to his headlining techmeme in the near future. He is going places. Mark my words.

As for now, he’s gone to the Supernova conference and is blogging Live! or so I think. Check out his related posts here.

Quick Update: Here’s Andy Beal (from the blog Marketing Pilgrim)’s take on Jacob/hates/RSS.

I guess one of the reasons Jakob’s comments have elicited such widespread surprise is that he’s considered a web-usability guru and the fact that he doesn’t get RSS baffles many bloggers world-wide.

Filed under: Uncategorized

3 Responses

  1. Yes, I'm blogging live, taking pics as well… will post them later, as I forgot my USB cable… heh oh well.

    Interesting things happening in second life…

    Can't wait to get the full report w/ pics. Good luck!



  2. Marketeer says:

    Right… but i still have to agree with Jakob on the point that the majority still doesn’t understand what RSS or Newsfeeds are! Digital newsletters they do understand. That’s why my company recently build a newsletter application that creates:
    1. a e-mailing that can be send to mailaccounts.
    2. flows new news content into a webpage
    3. generates a RssFeed that people can subscribe to.
    The best of both worlds I would say. And all of this using just one form.

    As long as site syndication hasn’t spread to the masses, I think we are stuck using custom solutions.


  3. Mario Sundar says:

    Hi Rogier,

    Good to see you’re back on the blog with your comments. I agree that we need to come up with some sort of easy-to-grasp terminology; maybe digital newsletter would do the trick.

    I also find your newsletter application interesting. I’ll probably take a closer look.

    Personally, my goal is evangelizing to companies and marketers the benefits of RSS/web 2.0 ways of marketing right.

    This blog happens to be one of those avenues I choose to spread the message.

    Thanks for dropping by.


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