RSS As an Alternative to Email


An article worth reading on the use of RSS as an alternative to email for newsletter publishers. The author, Steve Outing, talks about how Chris Pirillo's Lockergnome is actively moving people to RSS to avoid the hassles of email. Even though Chris' email newsletters are opt-in, they frequently get caught in spam filters. I know that I have to explicitly add each of the newsletters I subscribe to to my whitelist or SpamAssassin will kill them as Spam.

Of course one of the reasons people publish email newsletters is to sell ads in them, so this bring up the whole issue of ads in RSS feeds. If you subscribe to any of Infoworld's or Lockergnome's feeds, you'll have seen them. I prefer InfoWorld's style a little since its clearer to me what's an ad and what's content. I think it ads more credibility to the real story when the ads are clearly identified.

I was thinking about this today before I saw Outing's article in the context of my desk. My desk is much cleaner since I left the state. That's primarily because I don't get nearly the volume of magazines. I read most of what I see now online. That's nice, but I miss the friendly "event notification" that a magazine arriving at my desk signifies. This is, of course, what publish and subscribe is all about in the physical world as well as the virtual one. Email provides this same sort of event notification, but as Outing and others point out, its being drowned in a sea of viruses.

RSS offers an alternative that can provide all the benefits of an email newsletter or even magazine subscription. There's still some work to be done, but I look forward to the day when I can subscribe to Infoworld or CIO Magazine and get the same product online that I do offline and have it delivered. This won't happen if the publishers can't insert ads.