Brian Gray of Are You 2.o yet? pointed me to an interesting post the other day--that only 12% of users are aware of RSS and 4% use it. Link to original Yahoo Report.
In the past six months as a user, I've gone from delighted with RSS to overwhelmed by it. It's an amazing resource, particularly when channeled effectively. For a library job searcher, it proved to be invaluable. However, the low usage/awareness reported by that study doesn't surprise me. We talk about "Really Simple Syndication" as this great and wonderful tool---but a tool is only good if I have a reason to use it.
I was a slow adopter because I couldn't remember to check my RSS feed. Why would I want to check something beyond my email? Didn't everything come in email newsletter format? These seem to be similar concerns across the board as just last week a posting came through on a listserv asking for tips on how to get people to use their feeds. A suggestion came for email pushers--but unless you're up for a TON of email or you are only subscribing to a veeery select
number of blogs, this doesn't seem like an effective way to manage this tool. (Caveat: I don't use those...so I can't speak for experience with them!!!)
When I'm trying to explain RSS, my best method is to find a subject relevant to the poor person who's caught me on a 'feed' high. I can explain to you how it made my job hunt easier but that won't help you learn to use the tool so instead we need to find something you-specific. My boyfriend, patient in being my guinea pig on occasion, is my (hopefully) latest adopter of RSS. His feed hook? Harley motorcycles.
After a brunch discussion a few weeks back about RSS/Reader/That thing I'm always giggling over, I talked him through the basics of Google Reader and signed him up for my blog. Then we scooted over to Yahoo!News and did a Harley search. After talking about XML/RSS boxes and other stuff for a little while, I left him to his own devices. Shortly thereafter I was asked to supervise adding a Harley blog to his reader. His reader now has a prominent post on his Google homepage---and he even had a phone comment on my earlier post.
It wasn't that he couldn't understand how to use the tool---but he needed something personal, like a Harley blog, that will have information he really wants to read to bring him back to it often enough to make it worth his time.
So my RSS is Read Specific Stuff---because there's too much information in the world and it needs to be weeded to the 200+ new items in my feeder.
Off to bed early (at least for this hedgehog)