Self-proclaimed and universally acknowledged web-usability guru, Jakob Nielsen categorically stated his dislike for some of the newer-fangled content distribution mechanisms such as RSS in his recent interview for WSJ. But why?
Here’s what he said (italicized) and what I think
(i) RSS is not well-recognized. 82% don’t know about it. “News feeds” are better.
That’s understandable and maybe it’s the right time to start calling it something more understandable such as “web syndication” or “news feeds” or whatever seems to connote the right ideas.
(ii) Jakob prefers newsletters to RSS news feeds
Now, this I don’t get; nor do I agree with because it’s flawed and confusing. All the qualities that Jakob cites as reasons for email newsletter adoption, actually ring truer for RSS news feeds.
By his own admission, the best content dissemination mechanisms have got to be
Timely – Check
Targeted – Check
Very Good – Check
Actually, RSS newsfeeds have a great way to provide targeted information than email newsletters. Since LONG newsletters are off-putting to your customers. Imagine, if you’d a way of breaking that further into categories/newsfeeds your target audiences would like. Actually, the next version of RSS is iRSS or individualized RSS which takes “targeted” to a new level. Check out Paul Dunay’s post on iRSS recently.
(iii) When the interviewer stated that blogs could do the same here’s Jakob’s response:
Certainly you can have blogs that function as newsletters, updated on a regular basis. But they don’t tend to do that. They don’t tend to have that same sort of publishing discipline: having a publication schedule and surveying this week’s or this day’s events. They could, of course, but they don’t tend to.
Most business-related, corporate newsletters I know of have a frequency of around one-two a month while most tech bloggers, blog religiously once or twice a day!!!
Jeremiah asks the right questions in his lead-in to this post a couple of days ago. I also happened to see J on techmeme today (albeit briefly..well no, look he’s still there) and look forward to his headlining techmeme in the near future. He is going places. Mark my words.
I guess one of the reasons Jakob’s comments have elicited such widespread surprise is that he’s considered a web-usability guru and the fact that he doesn’t get RSS baffles many bloggers world-wide.