RSS stands for 'Rarely Seen Sites'
You can't buy a latte in San Francisco or Mountain View without overhearing some tedious conversation about RSS, or Really Simple Syndication, and how the technology for distributing blog posts and news headlines is going to change the world.

Well, here's a reality check: Dead2.0 points to recent research that shows that only 1 in 10 people have even heard of RSS, and a mere 2 percent actually use it. That's a pretty lousy adoption rate for a technology which dates back to 1999. (A wag on Wikipedia notes in RSS's entry that even older "push" technology, similar to RSS in concept, introduced in the mid-'90s by once-hot startups like Backweb and PointCast "probably had a comparable marketshare to RSS today.")

Communications consultant Ian Joyce puts the best possible spin on the numbers on his blog: "Digital technologies are an important way to reach influencers." That's marketingspeak, we think, for telling your clients to overspend on unproven media in an attempt to get buzz.
Posted by Owen Thomas 11:00 AM 7 Comments comment | Add a Comment

While I think you're right to point out that overall awareness of RSS is low, this post is really naive, uncritical and ill-informed. First of all, sometimes new technologies undergo years of development within a small group of core enthusiasts before achieving wide appeal. The Internet itself is a good example; almost 25 years passed between invention and mass adoption.

Second, many of the people who use RSS are likely not be aware that they're doing so; in some places, it's called a "feed," and people who click the "Add to My Yahoo" button certainly don't need to be aware of "RSS, the back end technology used to make this work." It's a bit like asking people to be aware of SQL, just because that's the database used to power their website.

Finally -- RSS stands for Rarely Seen Sites?? RSS isn't a site! And most high-traffic websites -- including, by the way, this one -- offer RSS feeds as an option.
Posted By d reeves, cambridge,ma : 1:59 PM  

Doesn't CNN Money use RSS....?
Posted By EH, Bellaire, Texas : 2:09 PM  

RSS will make sense when more people have adopted cell phone with internet and want to have quick access to updated news and info over a lightweight protocal. How many people even have internet on their phone and really use it for something other than email/texting-- probably 1 in 10!
Posted By David, Washington, DC : 6:50 PM  

I think that is really weird. I would have thought that RSS had a better adoption/utilization rate than it does, especially with how great a technology it is. I know many people who use utilize RSS, including myself. I think, however, that there are probably many people find using RSS to be quite inconvenient since they don't use a browser with a built-in reader and really don't want to use IE and a separate reader. I believe this will change on the Windows end with IE 7 and Vista.

The best implementation I of an RSS reader that I have used is the one built into Apple's Safari browser. I am a little biased since I am a Mac user. However, this does not stop Safari from having a good way of obtaining RSS feeds.

Firefox added this functionality into their browser after Apple did and it works quite well, also. This would be a great option or current Windows users who obviously are not able to use the Safari browser.

I think once one learns how to use RSS for obtaining news updates and the like, they indeed find it to be valuable and even essential. My experience has been that it is a great technology and I get hundreds of news and blog updates everyday without having to visit every single site involved. I can just read the headline and header notes, and choose whether or not to view the full article. In my opinion, it really is the ultimate in convenience for obtaining breaking stories.
Posted By Mark, Modesto, CA : 7:43 PM  

Just wait until Microsoft launches IE 7.0 with the integrated RSS reader. It makes RSS easy to read and use. RSS will take off next year in a big way and those who haven't adopted it will be scrambling to do so.
Posted By Joseph, Greensboro, NC : 11:51 AM  

RSS is plumbing. Asking people whether they use it is like asking them to tell you what programming language the web site they visit is written in. The vast majority of people who use RSS don't know they're using it.
Posted By Jeffrey, San Francisco, CA : 9:40 PM  

RSS is purely XML and if you count the number of sites that use XML (including this one), you will be surprised. Google news is simply an entire page of RSS feeds. How else do you think they get up to the minute news from all those different sources? Check out Yahoo! News too--RSS feeds.
Posted By Eddie Hermoso, Somerville, NJ : 10:29 PM  

To send a letter to the editor about The Browser, click hereTop of page

Got a news tip? Send it to The Browser


Market indexes are shown in real time, except for the DJIA, which is delayed by two minutes. All times are ET. Disclaimer Morningstar: © 2014 Morningstar, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Disclaimer The Dow Jones IndexesSM are proprietary to and distributed by Dow Jones & Company, Inc. and have been licensed for use. All content of the Dow Jones IndexesSM © 2014 is proprietary to Dow Jones & Company, Inc. Chicago Mercantile Association. The market data is the property of Chicago Mercantile Exchange Inc. and its licensors. All rights reserved. FactSet Research Systems Inc. 2014. All rights reserved. Most stock quote data provided by BATS.
Market indexes are shown in real time, except for the DJIA, which is delayed by two minutes. All times are ET. Disclaimer Morningstar: © 2014 Morningstar, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Disclaimer The Dow Jones IndexesSM are proprietary to and distributed by Dow Jones & Company, Inc. and have been licensed for use. All content of the Dow Jones IndexesSM © 2014 is proprietary to Dow Jones & Company, Inc. Chicago Mercantile Association. The market data is the property of Chicago Mercantile Exchange Inc. and its licensors. All rights reserved. FactSet Research Systems Inc. 2014. All rights reserved. Most stock quote data provided by BATS.