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RSS Not Dead for Online Media

Several people were saying that RSS is dead, kinda like Wired declared the Web is Dead, but in both cases, the claims were do to emotional feelings and statistics that were narrow in scope.

The online audio and video marketplace, for example, is fueled through a solid backbone of RSS at the core of it’s infrastructure, still yet today. Twitter and Facebook have done almost nothing to replace this backbone, they only provide a means for simple alerts, and in the case of Facebook, one additional distribution source.

Many audiences of audio and video use iTunes to keep up with publishers via RSS feeds and often even when the RSS feeds are not part of the iTunes store. Similarly, many people aggregate RSS content to Windows platforms without iTunes, and also, to their phones, and a number of other popular devices and software aggregators from iTV boxes like Boxee, Roku and Apple TV to regular web aggregators like Google Reader, or specialized platform-specific feed readers and media players.

Most of the apps that aggregate news, audio and video from various different partners, including Techmeme and Populrs rely on RSS as a consistent, as-soon-as-you-want-it method of getting updates with titles, descriptions, author and date metadata that is not easy to find or aggregate on-time, via Twitter or Facebook. Without RSS feeds, the likes of Techmeme, Popurls and Flipboard for example, must scrape, which is a very fragile, inconsistant, update-unfriendly mess.

RSS is also an important form of B2B media publishing. For each new release, large platforms like TiVo and Apple for example use RSS to receive automatic push updates from publishers and then automatically engage redistribution.

A typical bubble-like perception by the Valley is illuminated today as Connie Crosby tweets a few quotes about Podcasting in Canada. Stats come from the Canadian Telecommunications Regulatory Body:

“Wow – @sgrandmaison says 11% of Americans, 7% Canadian francophones & 19% Canadian anglophones listen to podcasts #pcmtl” – Link

“Podcasting has 40% growth every year in Canada. ¾ not redistributed radio content.” – Link

It’s true, Americans are not the only people who use RSS feeds! RSS was, and still is ideal for keeping track of a decentralized web of information. It’s enough just to keep up with the last 10 minutes of my twitter stream whenever I decide to check in, how am I going to discover your update without an email in my “pending-to-do” box, or a light that turns on in my RSS feed reader where I keep ALL the news that I don’t want to lose in one place?

I will not be surprised if things change, but with regards to online audio and video programming, RSS is a necessity.

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