RSS Has Been Replaced By Twitter

by Thomas Beutel

I’ve been playing with Flipboard the past few days and a thought occurred to me. RSS has been replaced by Twitter.

Flipboard is a compelling concept… it displays news from your Facebook account and any number of Twitter accounts in a magazine style format. That means large Helvetica headlines, easy to read Times content, and lot’s of photos.

But it doesn’t (yet) support RSS feeds as a source. Flipboard says they will at some point.

I wonder though if it is even necessary. I wanted to create sections for some of my favorite sources… Jay Rosen and Dave Winer for media commentary, Techmeme for tech stuff, and Against Dumb, for variety.

It turns out that they all have Twitter accounts. Those accounts typically link to all the same content that their RSS feeds do. Often more, because they will contain links to content that the authors find interesting, but that don’t appear in their RSS feeds.

And guess what. Twitter accounts are much easier to work with than RSS. Here’s why:

  • Twitter accounts have names that are easy to find, remember and refer to. People can even talk about them.
  • RSS feeds are links. They are technical. No one talks about them in normal discourse.
  • Posting to Twitter is easier than adding to RSS. Even with WordPress around.
  • Twitter accounts are easy to aggregate into lists.

I understand that Twitter has a different intent than RSS, and that RSS provides much of the foundation of information flow on the internet.

But I just wonder if Twitter is ending up to be a much easier way to say “here’s what’s new… and interesting”. And if it’s easier, then why use RSS?