Well, this was an interesting topic for me. I have never really understood the importance of RSS, or the need. I have always found it difficult to get my head around … So when we were given a task to post an entry on “…how RSS can enhance a library or information service’s ability to meet the
information needs of its users” I struggled.

I struggled to see the difference between RSS and Twitter.

I struggled to see why one would use RSS when it seems just so difficult to use.

So I started Googling. Then I struggled to find recent articles on this topic (the difference between RSS and Twitter). finally I found some that helped me to begin to see the difference between RSS and Twitter. These articles were written in 2011 and were some of the more recent ones I could find. As usual with the ‘web’, one article lead to another, which led to another, etc. I started with an article by Giorgio Sironi on “Why Twitter is not an RSS replacement“, which led to a blog entry by Kroc Carmen titled “RSS Is Dying Being Ignored, and You Should Be Very Worried“, which led to Dave Winer, apparently the man who invented blogs and RSS (according to a Gizmodo article anyway). It was on Winer’s blog that I had my first ah-ha moment.

In a blog post on December 18, 2012 (Why is Twitter letting us export?), Winer made the following comment: “To publishers who act as if Twitter, Facebook, etc are part of the open Internet, maybe now you’re getting the idea that this is not true. These are corporations who think and act just like you do.” Ah-ha! It seems that RSS is not really ‘owned’ by anyone, only feed readers are. OK, so in that regard, RSS has the potential to be around for a lot longer than a ‘format’ that is corporately owned (also not, if uptake is too small). Then I read an article from Stephanie Quilao (How to explain RSS the Oprah way) which described RSS in a really simple way which also helped me understand a little more of the value of RSS over Twitter. The diagram below is from Quilao’s blog post.

I started to feel like I was beginning to understand the reason that RSS should be used by organisations, bloggers, etc.

I then reread the Sironi article and I really think I’m getting somewhere:

  • RSS is open – no-one ‘owns’ it.
  • Twitter is closed – Twitter owns it, and seeks to profit from its use .
  • RSS readers provide greater opportunity for recall of information and categorising of same.
  • Twitter ‘tweets’ can be quickly ‘hidden’ by newer posts meaning that information of interest may be lost to the user.
  • RSS feeds can be read ‘later’.
  • Twitter ‘tweets’ need to be read ‘now’.

So now I have a bit more of an understanding as to why both RSS and Twitter can be, and more likely should be used together – not one over the other.

Please see Part 2 for my answer to the actual question I was meant to answer …


Camen, K., (2011, January 3). RSS Is Dying Being Ignored, and You Should Be Very Worried. Retrieved from http://camendesign.com/blog/rss_is_dying.

Quilao, S., (2006, September 21). How to explain RSS the Oprah way. Retrieved from http://cravingideas.blogs.com/backinskinnyjeans/2006/09/how_to_explain_.html

Sironi, G., (2011, January 11). Why Twitter is not an RSS replacement. Retrieved from http://css.dzone.com/articles/why-twitter-not-rss.

Tartakoff, J., (2010, March 29). The (short) history of Twitter’s plans to make money. The Guardian. Retrieved from http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/pda/2010/mar/29/twitter-making-money.

Winer, D., (2012, July 16). Why Dave Winer Invented the Blog. Gizmodo. Retrieved from http://gizmodo.com/5926282/why-dave-winer-invented-the-blog.

Winer, D., (2012, December 18). Why is Twitter letting us export? Retrieved from http://threads2.scripting.com/2012/december/whyIsTwitterLettingUsExport.