Consumers still don’t understand RSS – but is this a problem?

Steve Rubel reports on a new Forrester research report on the adoption of RSS that suggests RSS adoption by consumers may have peaked at 11%. He thinks that:

RSS is only one form of opt-in communications. The potential is bigger when you look more broadly to social networking. This larger promise still holds and as the technologies become more invisible the newsfeed could even one day subsume RSS.

Personally I think Rubel is a little short-sighted by focusing on RSS simply as a form of opt-in communication. I wonder what he thinks will actually drive integration between social networking tools and other information sources to create these news and activity feeds? However, I guess he is coming from a marketing perspective.

Slightly more on the money to my mind is Jeff Nolan from Newsgator who comments in response to Rubel’s post that:

Go to Newsgator.com and you will see that we minimize RSS and focus on what people are doing and why it matters. RSS is plumbing, widgets, social computing and other applications are the things that people interact with… You may never use an RSS application but you will certainly be relying on RSS infrastructure in the future even if you are oblivious to it.

I agree that the majority of users are about as likely to be as interested in understanding RSS as they are other Web 2.0 technologies, like AJAX, Flash, etc. However, while it might be “invisible”, the trick with RSS is that the technologists who are responsible for using Web 2.0 technologies inside and outside the enterprise do still need to understand why this stuff is important, particularly in relation to Enterprise RSS.

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