danah boyd, who’s made a practice of studying how younger people use social media (as contrasted with how we old fogeys tend to do so), noted recently (apophenia: a culture of feeds: syndication and youth culture) that the Web 2.0 “excitement” about RSS and syndicated feeds and suchlike may be missing the fact that it doesn’t match up well with the online habits of younger people:
As i wrote before, i quit using RSS/syndication readers. Sitting in at Web2.0 for 20 seconds, i was intrigued by the ongoing hype of RSS – how everything is going to be syndicated and how everyone is going to access data that way. For this audience, i think that it is certainly true. But i’m wondering if that’s really true beyond the info-nerds.
Syndication is based on an email model, relatively close to a mailing list model. You subscribe to a set number of things and the program informs you of updates. Like email, updates come in the form of a new item. If you leave your syndication tool alone for too long, those new items build up and you’re faced with an INBOX-esque situation, an eternal queue waiting to be checked off. Of course, there’s also a morbid pleasure in keeping that number at zero, motivating most digital control freaks to obsessively and compulsively check off the items as read. Syndication readers are the modern day whack-a-mole.
It should be noted that Dave Winer has always advocated an all-on-one page form of aggregration and is a staunch opponent of the email model that danah associates with syndication.