inessential by Brent Simmons

RSS Readers and Mac Net Journal

Yesterday on Mac Net Journal fellow Northwesterner Rob McNair-Huff asked: “Do you visit the weblogs you read?”

That’s a damn good question. Me, I don’t. Or at least not as often as I used to.

RSS readers may make it less likely that one will actually go to a site, which means the site can’t (as easily) present its various enticements to get you to stick around. It can’t grab you as easily, and that may make it more difficult for the site to make money. (Or pay for itself, at least.)

Or, at least I think that’s what the point is. There is an important issue here, but I just may not be able to articulate it too well.

I’ve been including Mac Net Journal in the default list of NetNewsWire subscriptions because I think it’s a good site and I want people to know about it and read it who may otherwise miss it. In other words, I’m trying to help build the popularity of the site, help make it worth Rob’s time.

The category of RSS readers is growing: on OS X for instance we have a choice of Pineapple, AmphetaDesk, blagg, Radio UserLand, NetNewsWire, and probably others I’m missing.

What I’m saying is that RSS readers aren’t going away. Turning back the clock isn’t a solution.

On the other hand—I wonder what the effect of RSS readers really is. Do sites really get less browser traffic?

I wonder if it’s maybe like the case with Napster, where (some people said) more CDs were bought because people were exposed to more music.

One thing, though, has changed for me for sure: I almost never visit weblogs anymore that don’t have RSS feeds. Example: Zeldman.