How Twitter replaced my RSS reader

Twitter has become a fast growing communication platform. Can we use it as a replacement for an RSS reader?

Posted by Curtis Miller on October 31, 2010

I used to subscribe to blogs via RSS through Bloglines, then Google Reader. Now, I don't subscribe to them at all. Strangely, RSS readers have become an obsolete, thing of the past for me and I didn't even realize it until recently.

So, how has Twitter replaced my reader?

  1. I subscribe to people, not sites

    Subscribing to a site via RSS means that you subscribe to all of the content on that feed. With Twitter, you subscribe to people. The users you follow will (hopefully) weed out articles that are not interesting, so you don't need to. If they don't or if they have too much noise, then you can simply unsubscribe. Many RSS readers added "following" other users later, but by then it was too late.

    Also, with only 140 characters, people get to the point about where the link goes. That makes it easy to ignore links that don't sound interesting.

  2. I get direct recommendations

    People I follow tweet a link to an article. This is the simplest and easiest way to read interesting articles since I'm already following people I find interesting.

  3. I also get indirect recommendations

    People I follow retweet (RT) a post, from someone I don't follow, that contains a link to an article. It seems like the volume of RTs has increased over the last 6 months; people are sharing more. This could be due to the ease with which the Twitter interface and mobile app allow RTs. This also gives me a chance to discover new, interesting people that I might want to follow.

  4. I can randomly discover articles

    I have several saved searches and lists that I check periodically. A majority of people I see on there are not people I follow. When I check these, I often discover content that I would have missed otherwise.

    Combine that with straight up search and managing multiple accounts and I find random stuff all the time.

  5. I can bookmark an article

    I don't always have time to read a link right away, so I use the favorite feature as a way to bookmark a tweet until I have time to come back and read it. If you look at my favorites, they are overwhelmingly tweets containing a link.

  6. I can share easily

    If I write something or find something that's interesting, I'm likely to tweet/RT it. Twitter made it easy for sites to embed a share button, too. People can easily (un)follow me if it's (un)interesting.

When I look at the current feature set of my RSS reader, it does the same things I described above, but checking it has constantly felt like a chore. I've already worked Twitter into my daily routine for communication, so there isn't another site I need to log into to find articles. Additionally, I also don't need to manage 2 sets of people I'm following.

Truthfully, I can't think of a reason to keep using an RSS reader. Can you?

Update: Found these links from Business Insider: Twitter Has Killed RSS Readers and PaidContent.org: The Death Of The RSS Reader.

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