Jerry Lawson over at NetLawTools discusses the pros and cons of E-Mail updates over RSS. I agree with the proposition; RSS feeds and news aggregators have tremendous potential to revolutionize the way we use the Internet.
In fact, Jonas and Kevin have come up with an extension of a cool concept called the LazyWeb, which Jonas has named LazyBlawg. Simply put: If I have a question I want answered, I simply post it on Inter Alia; the technology involved posts my question on a central weblog, where lawyers and others can read and comment on it. I can’t even begin to understand the technology involved (I leave that to Jonas, Kevin, and others), but it is a great tool that has terrific potential for the online legal community.
But I digress. Well, I partly digress. Although RSS is ultimately probably a superior method of communicating information than e-mail updates, try telling that to the average Internet user who is also a lawyer. Less than 10% of the people who subscribe to my e-mail newsletter also visit my blawg; they would rather have the information sent to them automatically. Aside from those dedicated lawyers and other legal types who maintain weblogs, I’d wager most lawyers with Internet experience will tell you they just don’t have the time, much less the desire, to visit multiple websites on a daily (or even regular) basis. And I don’t think that will change any time soon.
Yes, I know you can program a news aggregator to automatically deliver the headlines to you, so the effect is not all that different from receiving e-mail. But tell the average computer-using lawyer that the best way to get this information is to download and install another piece of software that (to them, anyway) works essentially the same as the e-mail they already have, and there’ll be more glaze on those eyes than on Grandma’s Christmas ham. But when the software makers find a way to download your RSS headlines into an e-mail program……
I may be wrong, and the revolution is just around the corner. I may even be missing the point. I love my news aggregator (although Jonas is prompting me to try others), but I think that for now they will be used mostly by bloggers, librarians, and other information junkies. Save this entry so you can come back and laugh at me when I’m proved wrong.