Thursday, 12 February 2009

RSS or Email?

One possible use of news feeds is information dissemination within the university (or any other institution). At the moment a lot of emails are being sent out, many of which are not that relevant (though I think this has improved over the past few years). Such emails clog up your inbox, and might distract from really important mails that get lost in the deluge of information.

RSS feeds, on the other hand, can be split into different channels according to topics. If I want to get information about research seminars in computer science (I don't get this now, because I'm not affiliated to the department), I simply subscribe to that respective feed. However, I would probably opt out of some research seminars in my own department or school which I then don't have to hear about. By being more selective, I can reduce my exposure to irrelevant information, and save much time while still getting more relevant information than before: by choosing feeds that I'm not in the email-target audience for. A win-win situation.

So what's stopping us? Habit. Lack of knowledge of alternatives. So let's hope many people will go on courses to learn about RSS feeds etc. I don't know what I'd do without Google Reader!


  1. I agree, rss is certainly preferable to email for information dissemination to large groups. Habit and lack of knowledge are certainly part of the reason we don't currently use them, but there are other reasons as well.

    Lack of demand (,7211,47150,00.html - suggesting that rss takeup is levelling out) plays a part. As long as email continues to have near 100% usage in your target audience it remains a pretty compelling medium.

    Equally important, large institutions tend to refresh their technology on a minimum of five year cycles. A lot of technical solution providers weren't providing rss as standard a couple of years ago, nearly all do now.

    I'd like to think it's inevitable that rss will take over from email but progress has been slow so far!

  2. That's the first time (above) I've used OpenID to leave a comment on a blog, not very impressed with it, what kind of a username is that!


  3. My first try with OpenID here. Not sure what the advantages are...?

  4. Ah, I see - not my profile name, but my blog address. A click through would take the reader to my blog and not to me. Could be useful, I guess.

  5. But what if you have several blogs? Do you then also have several IDs?

  6. RSS feeds for academic journals-it's brilliant. No need to check whether the latest issue is out, it comes to your reader. Not all journals have cottoned onto it though so you need to be patient.