Understanding Media: RSS feeds

December 3, 2006 at 11:21 am | Posted in Web 2.0 | 4 Comments
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Today is the day that I want to find out what the fuss is all about with RSS feeds. They’ve been around for a couple of years now, and as the average dummy user seems to be beginning to use them (blog feeds, pod feeds, what have you), I suppose it’s time to devote some attention to them. I’ve ignored them in the same way as I have ignored news readers in the past. When it comes to push technology, an email newsletter seems to be as far as I’m willing to go (I installed a newsreader I think in 1998 and subsribed to the university of Cologne news and to a postmodern news group – no trace of anything newsworthy in the former, and nothing but intellectual flatulations in the latter.)

Ever since Lenina announced that she’d add me to her feeds if I sustained a one post per day output I’ve begun to look into this RSS feed thingy. I first added feed widgets to my blog, not really knowing what I was doing or what anybody else would be able to do with them.

One day later, I looked at my feed stats for the first time: Apparently 16 people had ‘read my feed’:
Feed stats

I’m putting this in quotation marks as I honestly have no clue what that is supposed to indicate. What happened on these people’s computer when they ‘read my feed’? Did they get some type of notification, a little email saying “Jana has posted something new”? Or how did they find out? And why on earth should anybody be interested in getting a notification about the soliloquious jabberings of mine? To be honest, I actually found the thought a bit disconcerting. I wondered who these people were. Would I know them? Would I be able to come up with a total of 16 names of people I know that might be interested? Quite frankly not.

Then again, this was probably one of the famous Web 2.0 effects – stick a tag on your content, and someone interested will find it (yet again, as mentioned earlier, my most employed tag is ‘F***ing Vorarlberg’ – who’d be looking for that tag?)

Nevertheless, some people must have been looking at this blog (that I think of as a diary software rather than an online publication), as it has had some 800 visits so far, 49 visits alone on its best day:
Blog stats

That was the day I wrote about the antifascist demonstration here in f***ing ole Dornburn. I know these numbers are NOTHING in comparison to Lenina’s blog, yet I still keep wondering where all those people come from.

Anyhow, to draw this first investigation into RSS feeds to a close: On my computer, I don’t seem to be able to use them, maybe because Mac OS X 10.3.9. (no, I still don’t have the 10.4 version) or rather the browsers for this OS don’t support feeds sufficiently. If I open feed URLs in one of my (three) browser, I get this:

Safari (still my favourite, though probably no longer the best for Mac – but like many Mac users, I feel slavishly indebted to Apple’s own software):
RSS

Internet Explorer for Mac (I think Microsoft has stopped the support for this browser completely):
RSS

Firefox:
RSS

And this is probably already my best bet on the browsers that I have: The post headings can be fed into a Firefox favourites menu:
RSS

But can the whole RSS fuss really be about a drop down menu that updates itself? Is this Web 2.0? If not, is this persuading push technology at least?

Dunno, I am not convinced. Will have to look into one of this RSS feed readers (but yet another browser on my lappy? gnarl….)

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