For those doing their online reading by visiting and revisiting individual web sites selling the advantages of using an RSS reader is easy. You can just point them at the wonderful video from Commoncraft.
But what about those subscribing to updates by email. Well thats OK because that may be where they live. (see previous post). But if they have never tried an RSS reader they may not know what they are missing.
So what are some reasons for subscribing to online reading by RSS into an aggregator rather than by email?? What are the really basic selling points.
We all complain about email overload and there are reems of books and posts on methods to overcome it. Why not start by only using email for what its best at? Email isn’t bad it just needs to know its place. Email is at its best used as for lengthy communications between two people. Not for sending or receiving broadcast messages or collaboration. See this RWW post for a great analysis and this from Library clips on alternatives to email.
Batching your reading can be more productive than reading in a piecemeal fashion as in comes into your email box.
Email folders and rules only work so far and, especially if you are practicing GTD in your email, your subscriptions are just adding to your inbox maintenance.
When you subscribe to updates by email often you are getting a digest when contains many posts. Some may be relevant and worth reading or saving, some may not be. In a reader you can mark individual posts for reading, sharing and saving.
To subscribe to a feed you need the URL and usually will get it from the originating site but after that unsubscribing can be done in the reader with a click. No need to revisit the site. FeedDemon has a “dinosaur” report that lets you easily see with feeds are no longer updated.
The better readers have better search options, for rereading that half forgotten post, than Outlook.
A lot or organizations put limits on your email inbox. If you shift your subscriptions to a reader then you can archive in the reader. The web based ones are limitless, the desktop ones are dependent on your PC .
Most RSS readers offer many ways to share an article with colleagues and clients beyond email. For example, depending on the source of a post, FeedDemon will let me email, send the post to any blog that I own, add a post to del.icio.us or digg, add the post to a folder that can be shared by RSS.
Not all websites that provide RSS feeds provide an email subscription option. Restricting subscriptions to email means that you would need to use a third party RSS to email service and a lot of clicking and pasting or URLs to set it up. Using the RSS directly usually means one or two clicks to subscribe to a feed depending on your browser and your reader.
Spam and security
Using a RSS reader limits the number of places to which you are handing over your email address.
You can take one more step and turn those email list that don’t provide alternatives into an RSS feed with this howto from Lifehacker
For some of us this is basic stuff that we take for granted but how do we communicate it to our colleagues and clients? The points above are just the possible selling points of using an RSS reader over email that I could think up for now. I am sure that there are more and I would appreciate additional suggestions via the comments.