RSS will in fact kill some forms of email

We’ve not had a techy fight in ages thanks to all the women having their own fights, so lets go!

Michele points to Tom O’Leary’s quite defensive stand on email and why RSS is not the wunderkind it is billed to be.

Tom lists reasons where RSS falls down and where email is better. I’ve added some comments of my own:

* You can’t segment an audience with RSS for a demographically-designed message without investing in a complex backoffice utility.

The more you want a custom designed and delivered message, the more it is going to be complex to design/run. That goes for everything. However for an end-user it doesn’t have to be complex whatsoever. The magic to make it simple to use is the job of a professional software house. Is this something like Nooked does?

* You can’t securely send passwords, key codes or recipient-specific information with RSS

There is such as thing as Secure RSS that can in fact do this and much more.

* You can’t effectively align images in a message with RSS.

This just boils down to the definition of effective. Tis an XML feed after all. Style information could in fact be included.

* You can’t use HTML design effectively with RSS.

See above.

* You can’t personalize an RSS feed with custom content.

Nooked again? Well you could in fact by having an rss feed with a unique session id added to it everytime the feed subscription page is loaded. I’m not a coder and this seems obvious to me.

RSS will in my view be good for email and make email more enjoyable. Newsletters and all these one-way communications that make up so much of our inboxes will be gone and we can get on with communicating with people and not automated shite that streams in.

I don’t think there’s any reason to think that email will die as a result of RSS but it will be repositioned certainly. Anyone that says that RSS will kill email is obviously a bit dim. However, if people were to say RSS would replaced the one way delivery of information to someone that email was previously used to do this, then that’s quite brought. The new mailclients will have RSS integration built in and people will prefer to click, subscribe, click unsubscribe.

Email is fine for communicating but absolutely crap for attention. Anyone can mail you in whatever volumes they want and you have to sort it. Sure spam filters and all that will look after some, but it is an arms race between the spammers and the filter makers. RSS means you say “I will allow such a person to get my attention” and if you get bored of them. Click. Gone. No chance of getting hit with new sneaky feeds or your details being sold on someone else delivers a feed to you.

8 Responses to “RSS will in fact kill some forms of email”

  1. Justin Mason says:

    Wow, this Tom O’Leary guy needs to catch up with the reality of the “messaging”
    world nowadays! I’ve been using secure, recipient-specific feeds over RSS for
    well over a year now.

    I can’t point at the “secure” example, unfortunately, it being for a private
    site, but for a recipient-specific feed example, look at Flickr’s “photos I’ve
    commented on” feed, or “photos from my contacts”. And recipient-specific ==
    custom, personalised content, so that’s the last point taken care of, too.

    Flickr is hardly little-known technology at this stage ๐Ÿ˜‰

  2. Tom O'Leary says:

    Believe it or not, I agree whole-heartedly Damien. While I did understand that RSS could successfully replace certain functions of email (i.e. newsletters), my decision to write the piece was based on my belief that email is not as dead as has been hyped in headlines recently. Just as email didn’t replace letter writing, RSS won’t replace email. That said, I strongly support new technologies and look forward to more efficient vehicles for communication, as long as effectiveness isn’t jeopardized as a result – which, from what I’ve since learned about the evolution of RSS, won’t be.

    Justin: You are obviously technically astute, but you don’t represent the majority of users of the Internet. According to a Pew Research report conducted in September 2005, only 3 percent of Internet users read blogs. Just last week, I received two emails from individuals who ‘had recently heard’ about RSS and were wondering how they could ‘put it’ on their website. While I am certain that there will be a tremendous shift to new technologies over time, the learning curve is long and steep. I would guess that an extremely small percentage of Internet users are sending secure, recipient-specific RSS feeds to their customers. I’m not at all doubting that it can be done, just that it’s far from mainstream at the moment. I, and many others out there are relying on early adapters like you to make those new technologies idiot friendly รขโ‚ฌโ€œ for people like me!

    As a result of your feedback, I will amend the article accordingly so as accurately represent the functionality of RSS, which, by the way I am a big fan of. That said, the last line of the article will remain intact!

    By the way, while I’m here, is RSS-to-SMS a possiblity at the moment?

  3. Damien says:

    Tom: Previous post of mine on RSS to SMS. Yahoo does it for free in the states,

  4. Tom O'Leary says:

    Thanks Damien! That’s awesome! I tried adding your site to my Google feed reader, but it’s not accepting it for some reason?

  5. Damien says:

    It’s probably still pissed after I said it was a piece of shit. ๐Ÿ™‚

  6. Tom O'Leary says:

    lol. Big brother is watching…and listenting. I think that my SEO efforts are still being affected after suggesting that people try Dogpile’s mulit-engine search display.

  7. Tom O'Leary says:

    Damien, I linked your comments into a postscript on the original article.

  8. blog:mbf says:

    Email vs. RSS

    There has been talk of the death of email for years now.
    A couple of Irish bloggers, Damien Mulley and Tom O\’Leary have joined a debate on how rss may or may not be a replacement for email.