RSS usage: one user is enough

The next time I get into that RSS argument – you know, the one where people say ‘yes but only a tiny number of people use it’ – I’ve got a great response. It only takes one.

The area I’m getting most excited about just now is RSS-based syndication. Yes, actual syndication. Putting your content on my website, and vice versa. Better visibility for your material, and better usability for my users: instead of telling them they’ll get ‘the latest news’ from your site, I show them what that latest news actually is. And even better, it manages itself: neither of us has to lift a finger.

It’s getting easier and easier to do this. The PHP development language now includes a ‘simple XML’ function, which lets even a non-expert like me write some lines to process it. There are several excellent ready-to-go functions written in PHP: I’ve had good experiences with lastRSS. An RSS widget comes as default on something like WordPress. Personalised homepages. Desktop sidebars. The list goes on. But it’s all dependent on you providing an RSS feed to process in the first place.

Of course it would be great if more people were using RSS as their primary ‘front end’ for the web. But if your feed has only one ‘user’, with that ‘user’ displaying your latest headlines to dozens, hundreds, thousands of visitors to another site, it’s more than paying for the development effort you’ll have to put in.