Twitter as RSS

I’ve been following more people on Twitter, namely webcomic artists and bloggers, and have begun to notice that several of them update their Twitter every time they write a blog post. I’m a little conflicted about the practice, though I suppose it makes sense; redundantly putting information out in multiple places helps ensure it’ll get read by the most people. Since I subscribe to their RSS feeds, though, it first came across as somewhat over-the-top and obnoxious. Then it supplanted my usual RSS feed.

As much as I love RSS, and even Google Reader (my RSS reader of choice), I found that it’s really nice to read people’s words on their own site. People who blog or create web comics usually have decent websites, and as it turns out, the conventional wisdom is correct: a good frame accents the art and emphasizes its beauty.

Beyond that, as I began writing this, it occurred to me that Twitter is like RSS for life. Of course, you don’t have to update regularly, but it’s easy to see where it can be used as a mini-blog for more practical purposes. I say “practical” because it’s hard to justify writing an entire blog post and giving it the front page of my site for a day about how I pulled some muscles and my shoulders hurt, but I can certainly post about it on Twitter, which shows up in my sidebar. 140 characters is about all such information deserves.

It doesn’t necessarily demand that you open your life up to every passer-by. You put as much info in as you like, and if you like, you could only use it as a marketing tool and to spread word about your other work. Whether you use it as RSS for your life or just your site, though, I think it presents a prettier picture than an XML sheet fed through a reader, black text on a white page.

That being said, I certainly don’t recommend shutting down your RSS feed(s)! This level of redundancy allows people to use whatever subscription means they like, but the key is consistency. If you start using Twitter as subscription means, you have to update it forever or accept the consequences: if you stop updating at some point in the future, you’re likely to lose at least some of those subscribers. You can post that you’re moving to a different subscription model/location, of course, but the people who use only one method and refuse all others are unlikely to change.

I currently have my blog and Twitter both posting to Friendfeed, but I can certainly see the value of Twitting about my blog. Nevertheless, I think I’ll hold off for now. My Twitter is all personal updates now, RSS for my life, and I think I’d like to keep it that way for now.

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