Is RSS Ready for Prime-Time

Dylan Greene writes an insightful yet ultimately unsatisfying piece arguing that RSS is not yet ready for Prime Time.
He’s right that RSS has weaknesses. The way most people use it, it wastes bandwidth. Many feeds don’t include full-text (need to fix this…). Comments aren’t well integrated. And, the coup de grace, an RSS reader isn’t yet built into Microsoft Windows.
True, but not that useful, unless you’re a Gartner analyst trying to determine whether a technology has reached a state of ultimate, top-right-quadrant maturity.
The interesting questions are:
* is RSS mature enough to do what you want?
* can you benefit from RSS as an individual, a publisher, or an organization.
If you’re a mildly tech-savvy individual wanting to keep track of lots of weblogs and news, then RSS is a lifesaver.
If you’re a complete novice, or if you advise complete novices, you probably want to avoid RSS — though bloglines is pretty darn accessible — I’d recommend it to anyone who is comfortable with a browser.
If you’re a blogger or web publisher, and want to reach the increasing number of users who depend on RSS to read web content, then surely publish in RSS.
If you’re in an organization where most people are drowning in email (i.e. most of us) and you have influence over technology choices, you might want to consider using RSS to complement business applications, helping individual employees manage their time and attention.
Dylan’s points are correct, but they don’t tell you whether the rewards of RSS are worth the trouble for you. It takes a bit more effort to use technologies that are somewhat in their life cycle. You need to decide whether it’s worth it.
If you’re an open source geek or work for a technology company that’s not Microsoft, you have opportunities to shape next-generation syndication standards and applications. Those opportunities are here now, and will be gone in a few years.

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