Drinking from the Fire Hose of Information (and the Death of RSS)

By Bob Troia

Psst… I have a confession to make. I do not  “subscribe” to any blogs. Nor have I used an RSS reader for well over a year.

Shocked? Don’t be, because I still get my daily fill of timely news, information, and gossip. Only now, I rely exclusively on my “social lens” – the filtered/curated content that is passed along to me from my social connections.  It was only a few years ago when we relied on sites like Technorati to discover blogs and sift through information. Now, the proliferation of various social channels has created a virtual “firehose of information“, curated by my social circles.

Depending on the subject matter, I then decide whether or not a story is worth checking out based on the “lens” I am viewing it through (how influential I feel a given connection is on the topic), and  if an item is newsworthy enough then other connections will also be sharing it throughout the day so I’m not prone to miss out on something. LinkedIn, Facebook, and Google+ will even highlight which stories have been most shared by my connections.

The same way people will accumulate a pile of unread back issues of The New Yorker, I don’t have the time nor the patience to read through every article on every blog or news outlet, so this filtered approach also saves me a lot of time.

A study by Yahoo Research found that 50% of URLs consumed originate from only 20K “elite” users on Twitter. Most of these accounts are either major media outlets or notable personalities. So, in essence, my connections act to filter out the noise and direct me to the most relevant/newsworthy content. To accomplish that 5 years ago, I would have had to run my RSS feeds through Amazon’s Mechanical Turk to pay other humans (strangers) attempt to decide which items might be most appealing to me!

Don’t get me wrong, there is still tremendous value in RSS, but mainly “under the hood” in terms of data exchange with other platforms/applications. And yes, there are still a few blogs I visit regularly, but it’s more of a one-shot, Sunday morning ritual where I’ll sit down with my coffee and read back through the past week’s content, cover to cover.

How did you come across this post? Do you subscribe to Social Media Playground’s RSS feed, or did you follow a link posted through your “social lens”?

Photo credit: OakleyOriginals


  • http://www.facebook.com/larrylud Larry Ludwig

    Google +, Twitter and Facebook are the RSS feeds for the masses.

  • Randy Bear

    Very good points Bob. I can see where social streams become the new RSS feeds. The interesting point you make is that we now have a filtering mechanism in our friends and trusted sources for finding those items of interests to us. That’s an area the social platforms (G+, FB, and LinkedIn) can expand upon and create deeper value with people. If they can provide a “News from your friends” type of experience it could be the future news reader for us.

  • http://twitter.com/BobTroia Bob Troia

    Thanks Randy. To your point about “news from your friends”, that sort of is already happening. Check out apps like Flipboard, Yahoo’s Livestand, and Google’s Propellar – they are all trying to take this stream of social-driven news/info and present it in a more easily-consumable, magazine-style format.