Via the fuzzy blog I found this post from an Israeli blogger, questioning the value of RSS News aggregators:
People who read many weblogs can use an RSS newsreader that will collect the news from the RSS files of weblogs to one "place" on their desktop. The interface of RSS aggregators look quite similar to Email programs.
Web sites are pull mode. People come to them to read.
Email is push mode. Information is sent to people.
RSS newsreaders bridge the gap between the web and Email. They enables web content to be pushed to the desktop of its subscribers.
Unlike Email, people who use RSS newsreaders choose what RSS feeds to subscribe to. But once they have chosen to read a feed, or to be aware of new items in a feed, they have to make the choice of reading the item or to ignore it. They cannot ignore the fact that a new item has been published, unless they unsubscribe from the feed completely.
Do we need more Email?
I don't think this is a good analogy. with email, I have no idea what will come at me. I've got a public interface into which anyone can throw things. Good stuff, bad stuff, anything. With RSS, I'm filtering based on what I know I'm interested in. I find that it takes me less time to follow the sites I care about with BottomFeeder than it used to with just a browser. However, I don't think this is the poster's real problem:
I have created an RSS feed for a weblog that deals with publishing weblogs in Hebrew. There are some issues regarding the mix of character sets and the bi-directionality of Hebrew that should be taken care of. Finding an RSS reader that can display RSS feeds in Hebrew is a hard task. I haven't found one yet.
There's his problem, I think - at present, most readers - certainly BottomFeeder - don't handle all encodings equally. This is a limitation I mean to address, but unfortunately, I'm not personally that knowledgeable about the issues. However, this next part I disagree with, a lot:
While developing the feed and testing different readers I thought about the whole idea and I think I have reached a personal conclusion. I think I don't want to use an RSS reader. I want to choose when to go a website to find if there is new content. I want to make my own decisions on when to go to a web site.
The fact that a technology is possible doesn't mean it's a good idea to use it. I don't want do be more distracted than I already am.
A reader is a tool - nothing more, nothing less. When I don't want to be distracted by news feeds, I either ignore it, or mark everything read. It's not as if the reader forces me to visit a site - it merely tells me that content i have previously expressed an interest in has been updated. IMHO, this is a good thing - certainly better than wondering if there's good stuff I might have missed, and having to plow through a bunch of favorite links to figure it out...