RSS reader use – increasing, decreasing?


How would you answer these questions:

  1. How long ago did you look at your RSS reader?
  2. How often do you do so?
  3. Why has this changed from 2 years ago, if at all ?

I was idly wondering whether there is still a point to setting an exercise in my library tech unit that gets students to subscribe and watch a few RSS feeds. I send out the message above on three of my Twitter accounts and obviously touched a nerve – around thirty people responded. (Not everyone answered each bit of the question).

My prediction? Twitter had turned RSS readers into roadkill. No-one was looking at RSS any more and anyhow, no-one is blogging any more.

Nope. 20 out of 33 check their RSS reader at least daily. Yes, around a third (31%) reported looking at the readers less than 2 years ago. 24% reported no change, but 27% reported an increase.

I know the people who responded and I guess that about 1/3 of those who were looking more did not really use RSS a couple of years ago.

Many of the comments attribute the way they use Twitter to a decrease or to a change in RSS reading patterns. Some now read more, but by skimming headlines. Others use RSS for “newspaper style” in-depth reading and Twitter for the more shallow quick links. Generally people reported RSS reading as a more social activity than two years ago – either obtaining new feeds via Twitter, pushing out a lot of links from their readers to Twitter, or just sharing via their RSS reader. Changes Β – of circumstances, jobs, interests and the patterns of blogging for the feeds they had followed – Β all were reported to change RSS reading habits.

So – the RSS exercise stays on the course, but maybe I should consider emphasising the sharing possibilities that using an RSS reader can involve?

The comment I most enjoyed, however, came from one of my followers immediately AFTER he had answered my question. His comment:

I just sent the best out of context tweet ever.

… because he had just tweeted:

@libsmatter 1 hr ago, many times a day, more than I did 2 yrs ago because now I have a smart phone

Oh dear. I then read back over some of the other responses, equally out of context. I’m sorry…. I laughed….


26 thoughts on “RSS reader use – increasing, decreasing?

  1. I don’t think I responded to your original inquiry, but I read this in my google reader, which I always have open in a tab.

  2. I linked from twitter.
    I have to say your question made me look at apps to connect to RSS from eyephone.
    Now I have onei am reading feeds again.
    So for me it was a question of easy access.

  3. read it through Google reader πŸ™‚ I probably use RSS just as much as I used to. I don’t always click through the links Twitter does unless I’m particularly interested at the time. I like to go through my feeds systematically most days.

  4. Google Reader. Mostly because Twitter is still widely considered too social to justify having open on one’s desktop, and I have all my customised alerts going through Google Reader, along with the blogs that I read.

    And the traffic on Google Reader is still steadily increasing for me. I keep needing to cut back my subscriptions from time to time, and reassess where my priorities lie when it comes to online reading.

  5. I think I actually saw this via Twitter this time. But Twitter is too overwhelming for me – I think I need to either unfollow a lot of people or create some highly complex filter algorithms, so in the meantime if it’s on Twitter I’ll see it sometimes but if it’s in RSS I’ll see it always.

  6. Read this through a RSS reader. I must have missed all of this when you posted it on Twitter. Although I rely more & more on Twitter to keep up to date, it’s so fleeting, go away for a day & you’ve missed everything. RSS is still one of my main forms of staying in touch, purely because I can leave it for a day & things are still there for me to find, not lost in the chatter. My Reader is screaming at me that I still have 1511 unread items.

  7. I read this via my google reader. I check my reader several times a day and I find it a great way to keep up with what’s happening out there in the library world. I like the way you can set up customised searches for various topics that I am interested in. I have a twitter account but don’t really use it unless I am trying to find information on events that are happening ‘right now’. I probably have more feeds on my reader now than I had 2 years ago.

  8. I read your post via my google reader (which I migrated to recently after being informed of the imminent demise of bloglines, which then didn’t happen). I check my reader two or three times a day. I use it to source news stories and research for my current awareness service that I provide at work, and also to read the library blogs. I check it more often than I did 2 years ago, because now I check it at least once a day via the FeedlerRSS app on my iPhone.
    I have a twitter account, but I find it a bit overwhelming and it is the first thing to get dropped when I get busy (ie the past 3 months). I think I would be on twitter more if I felt comfortable using it at work, but as I am practically the only one with access I don’t want to abuse the privilege. Whereas I am quite comfortable having Google Reader open because it feels more work related.

  9. I read this in Google Reader. I check my reader 10-20 times a day and have more feeds than ever before. Twitter is barely there for me. I find I use GR to get the posts and links to articles/reports/slide presentations that I’m interested in discovering and use FriendFeed to have conversations about those posts, links, articles, etc. Twitter just doesn’t give me a deep enough conversation to be worth the trouble.

  10. Have you compared your site vs feedburner analytics for your readership. Makes me feel like checking mine and writing a blog post, but on holidays using mobile broadband – might go for a swim instead πŸ™‚

  11. Read it through a Feedlooks reader. I like the in-depth, newspapery elements too and having the reader arranged with particular topics.

  12. Read it through RSS, could never give my RSS feeds up as I miss too much on twitter. RSS feeds are happy to sit and wait until I have time/inclination to read them, whereas my twitter stream moves way too fast for that. I estimate I get to actually look at less than 1/4 of the things that interest me in my twitter stream AND I don’t use it on weekends so miss all of that……

  13. Read it in a reader but saw it on first Twitter (thought that I would get to it later). Slight sidetrack. Could you get them to do the exercise but as an intro to general RSS awareness and leading to the other things that you can do with RSS feeds? Eg mashups, cross posts between sites, widgets etc.

  14. I read this in Google Reader. RSS allows me to time-shift and bundle my reading. The flow of content on Twitter is too much to do that, so I tend to treat it more like an ongoing party that I occasionally join. If I happen to catch an interesting conversation, great! If not, it probably wasn’t that important.

    I tend to tag thing in ReadItLater that are more than a few paragraphs or need some concentration to absorb. That gets read even less frequently.

  15. I aggregate Twitter, Facebook, & blog RSS feeds in Google Reader. Though it looks clunky, it gives me more direct control than a dedicated Twitter console such as Tweetdeck (though I haven’t looked at those lately – I imagine they’ve improved). I have the reader up throughout the day and easily skim somewhere over a thousand posts daily.

  16. Having been on holidays the last couple of weeks, with a few days remaining, I’ve missed most stuff posted to twitter. My RSS reader (desktop based) captures all and means I can catch up in my own time. Twitter is spontaneous, and for the moment. RSS is better for the stuff I want to keep track of.

    So yeah, saw this post via RSS πŸ™‚

  17. totally agree, I would still check Google Reader at least every 2 days. All good stuff concentrated together. Twitter volume too high and I might miss something if I did not do the RSS thing!

What do you think? Let us know.