Christopher Carfi at the Social Customer Manifesto writes that the NY Times has taken a crack at explaining RSS to the masses. (That first statement assumes the "masses" read the NY Times, which is questionable, but I digress.) According to the Times, an RSS feed is "like an email newsletter." Carfi thinks it's not a bad description: incomplete, to be sure, but a decent way of getting across some important aspects of RSS.
You'd think we'd have this figured out by now, wouldn't you? I mean, if RSS is so all-fired important for our future as communicators, shouldn't we know how to explain it? So here's a crack at coming up with something a little more descriptive than "like an email newsletter:"
RSS makes everyone the "editor" of their own personal media outlet. A radio station chooses whether to run Rush Limbaugh or Al Franken. A newspaper chooses whether to run Beetle Bailey or Garfield. And with RSS, just about any content on the Internet is available for you to "run" for yourself. You tell a site you like what it offers, and RSS delivers that stuff directly to your own personal media outlet every time there's something news.
I like the concept of "personal media outlet," though I'm not sure about the language. Who hasn't thought, "I would do a much better job of choosing news stories (or comic strips, or columnists, or talk show hosts) if I were in charge?" Now, we're all in charge, and RSS is what enables it.
Any thoughts on this?