From RSS to Glassboard

Marshall wrote a feature post on a new company spun out of NewsGator:

Glassboard, which will open to the public next month, will allow iOS and Android users to share text, photos and in some cases location with small groups. It is built with Microsoft Azure as its back-end and will integrate with Microsoft’s forthcoming Office 365.

NewsGator is right to spin this off and Walker, Nick, and Brent are the right core team to lead it, and NewsGator CEO J.B. Holston has deftly walked through a minefield as he rebuilt the company on enterprise software for employee collaboration.

Marshall has been an advocate for RSS from the earliest days but he is wrong to pin the blame for consumer RSS’ demise on random factors like flash games on Facebook, the wounds here are self-inflicted for the most part.

Consumer RSS apps failed to recognize that the presentation layer for feeds by itself isn’t that interesting, and neither is the repository and syncing of content aspect. By the time these apps figured out that discovery, sharing, and organization (now popularly called curation) were really important to users the market had passed them by.

Products like Flipboard and Feedly have done remarkably well, disproving the notion that consumers don’t want apps for consuming content, and online services like Reddit and Stumbleupon drive big traffic numbers for content publishers.

The elephant in the room is clearly Twitter and Facebook, which are increasingly used to drive referrals to content sites. You simply cannot talk about the demise of RSS without having a pointed conversation about how Twitter in particular has changed how a content feed looks.

I wrote about it repeatedly and still believe it to be a major reason behind the demise of RSS. The web is moving from pages to streams and, ironically, RSS is still oriented primarily around a page… despite being a feed.

Lastly, RSS simply doesn’t give publishers any reason to support it for consumer facing activities and as long as this remains the case then RSS will continue receding into the background for consumer activities. I am deliberate about the use of the term consumer because for backend piping of content from one service to another, RSS in the form of JSON will grow in importance and contribution.

Additional posts I have written on this:

Is Twitter Killing RSS?

There is No RSS Market

Consumer RSS: 1999-2010