Brent Simmons wrote a solid post about RSS today and his points got me thinking. Brent talks about RSS as part of the plumbing, that although all but a few hard core geeks (like me) use RSS readers, we all use RSS on a daily basis—without even knowing it.
Podcasts through iTunes? RSS powered.
App update notifications (especially on the Mac)? RSS powered.
Pretty much any app that serves information drawn from the Internet on your smartphone or tablet? RSS powered.
While working through this post in my head, I was grasping for a non-technical example that is at least somewhat equivalent to RSS. I managed to come up with a couple.
First, think about voice mail. Most of us started out with tape, then digital answering machines. Then Nortel invented voicemail as we know it. Now, we don’t have answering machines, and voicemail has certainly changed since it was born, but just because only a scant few people use answering machines and technology has evolved beyond them, we don’t talk about the “death of voicemail”. I think we actually take it for granted.
Related to voicemail is the humble telephone. I remember when you could only get phones from the phone company and the plugs for them were these giant four prong numbers. And I did learn how to dial a rotary phone in school. Today, we don’t think about phones and phone lines or even phone cable very much. Heck I don’t even have a landline! Yep, we’re all supposed to have a non-cordless phone to use during power outages, but I don’t see terribly many corded phones being sold. I don’t see too much phone cord being sold either! I used to keep a cache of “good” phone cable for modems and faxes back in the day, not any more.
In spite of these changes in technology and how our use of phones has changed, we don’t talk about the death of the telephone or even the death of the handset. Phone lines are still a core part of our technical infrastructure, even if you don’t use it often. Even if you don’t realize it.
Maybe this is a geek-centric point, or maybe I’m just a crazy old guy who still reads over 900 feeds a day (that’s often thousands of articles, btw) so I can share stuff that I find with you.
Yeah, I’m powered by RSS too.
Originally posted on the Future Shop Tech Blog.