Why Didn't PubSub Become Twitter?


Really, REALLY BIG RSS feed button

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Ever since Steve Gillmor published his Rest in Peace, RSS article, I've been thinking about RSS and Twitter. Steve says:

I haven't been in Google Reader for months. Google Reader is the dominant RSS reader. I've done the math: Twitter 365 Google Reader 0. All my RSS feeds are in Google Reader. I don't go there any more. Since all my feeds are in Google Reader and I don't go there, I don't use RSS anymore.
From Rest in Peace, RSS
Referenced Tue May 12 2009 10:02:38 GMT-0600 (MDT)

I've been wondering why RSS and something like PubSub didn't create a Twitter like environment. Here's my thought process:

  1. It would be trivial to create a simple micro-blogging platform that just spits out RSS. Dan Bricklin's List Garden or something like it, for example.
  2. Using a tool like PubSub (back in the day), a slightly upgraded Feedburner, or something similar, it would be easy to subscribe to (follow) a person's micro-blog.
  3. Using readers like Google Reader, NetNewsWire, NewsGator, etc. you could follow the custom mixed feed of the people you've subscribed to.

As far as I can tell, we coul dhave cobbled together a distributed, open standards, Twitter out of the the things we had laying around in 2002 or so. And yet we didn't. Blogging remained a heavyweight activity and so did reading RSS feeds.

So why didn't we? Vision and concept--not technology. We thought of blogging and the tools that we used to do it as being stuck in the world they were originally deployed in. Now of course, the momentum is all against such a move.