An RSS reader, once set up, is much like a newspaper targeted specifically at your interests. It’s nice, in the morning, to sit down and read a bit about a few different topics, find out what’s going on in your areas of interest, and maybe learn something new. It’s even nicer when you don’t have to weed through other things which don’t even slightly interest you in order to find those bits that do.
That’s what an RSS reader does… it provides you with updates to “feeds” of information that interest you, without any extra “junk” (one man’s junk is another man’s treasure) to waste your time. It allows you to efficiently remain up to date in your chosen areas without having to visit dozens of websites to see if they’ve updated their content.
Of course, you can “subscribe”, or request updates be sent to your reader of choice, to general news feeds, and get the same sort of articles that would be in a standard newspaper, although without an editor deciding which ones deserve the front page. But if you’re only interested in one section of the paper, say sports, you can subscribe to feeds that only pass along sports news. Or if sports aren’t your style, you can subscribe to financial news, tech news, or any other kind of news.
But where RSS readers have an advantage over newspapers is the fact that you can also subscribe to feeds offering articles on self development (a little plug for my own niche… hope you don’t mind), gardening, bird watching, or any other subject of interest shared with too few people to make it into a newspaper on a regular basis. You can, essentially, build your own daily newspaper.
Newspapers do have an advantage over RSS in one area, though. Any given newspaper is likely to be read by far more people than a given set of RSS feeds. That means there is more of a social aspect… you can discuss the articles in the paper with others who have read them.
This advantage of newspapers is only fleeting, however, because while the “set” of articles is shared among readers, any individual RSS feed (and the articles it contains) can have anywhere from a handful to hundreds of thousands of subscribers… and they are all interested in the same topic. That’s quite an advantage for socializing… anyone else that you find, through whatever means, that reads that same feed shares at least one interest with you.
And the even stronger advantage for social interaction is that you can generally click on any given article to go to that website, and on that website there is a very good chance that they have the ability to leave comments, thus giving you a way to communicate with those other people who share this one (at least) interest with you.
So… articles only on subjects that interest you, which interests you can change at any time (unsubscribe from a feed and/or subscribe to a new one), the ability to get articles on a vastly more wide array of subjects, and the ability to interact with others who you KNOW share at least one interest with you… RSS readers seem likely to, at some point, replace physical newspapers (you can always subscribe to your local paper’s RSS feed) as a means to keep current on whatever your topics of interest.
And once someone invents (or popularizes) some way of sharing your entire set of feeds, that takes away the one social advantage that newspapers have left… that people have a good idea which other articles someone might have read.