Over the past several weeks, requests for InfoWorld's Top News RSS feed have regularly exceeded the requests for our home page. This has been going on long enough now that we're certain that it's permanent. I think it's a big deal.
During the business day, we track hour-to-hour performance (using a combination of shell scripts and Analog) and in any given hour, about 8 of our top 10 most requested files are RSS files. The actual numbers are proprietary, of course, but I can say that we have seen significant growth in overall RSS requests just in the past several weeks.
Feels like a tipping point to me.
Me too. It isn't just RSS that's getting huge. It's that more people are getting their Web services without the complicating container we call a browser. It's that there's another Web, alongside the static one we browse like the aises in a store, or the stacks in a library, looking for finished goods to read or buy. This other Web isn't framed in the same terms as the one we've been browsing for the last eight years. Its frame might be a news aggregator, or a blog, or a message on a phone, or a search through an engine that only looks for fresh goods. I first heard the best name for this other Web a year ago, from my son Allen, who called it the World Live Web. I was talking to Phil Windley about it yesterday. Here's what he wrote:
Why is RSS important? Because it says "here's what's changed on the Web." When I started building Web sites in 1993, it was very clear then that people visit sites that get updated frequently. That's still true. Now, however, we have a new tool, RSS, that tells us what's changed. I no longer have to limit my reading to sites I know get updated frequently. Instead, I get pinged whenever sites I'm interested in change. That's a fundamental shift in what the Web is. In fact, its something brand new.
The publishing frame (the metaphorical system by which we "author," "write" and "post" things called "journals" and "pages") still applies. The difference is currency. The Wide Web is archival. the Live Web is current. That it's also archival doesn't make it any less current, either.
By the way, I think Dave's offer to merge RSS and Atom is a magnanimous one. Now that RSS appears to be hitting a tipping point, it might be worth bringing up a problem I haven't seen anybody talk about: branding. RSS isn't just highly branded at this point; it also means something: Really Simple Syndication. I don't know what Atom means. And I haven't heard anybody give us a useful (i.e. brandable) name (other than RSS or a derivative) to the category to which both RSS and Atom belong.