RSS is great — it never has been widely accepted by the masses but still, it’s really useful. And there’s a big distinction between how RSS is and how is supposed to be used, and Twitter. In the true form of things, they never competed — and if they did — that was a mistake.
The main difference between those two (RSS, Twitter) is time-relevancy. And, well, acceptance and usage from the masses. That’s where RSS is behind.
Time-relevancy and the real-time newsfeed
Twitter took off for several reasons. One of them is the “instantness.” Using Twitter, a user gets to know what happens *right now* in the world, real-time, for whatever he’s interested in. Be it the Arab Spring, celebrity news, an earthquake, citizen-journalism from around the globe, breaking tech news, etc, etc. Occasionally, a user also gets to know real-time commentary and thoughts about the things happening or your usual Instagram lunch.
All those are great, don’t get me wrong. And I love them — I’ve used Twitter since 2008 in every possible way. Irrelevant status updates, easing my boredom at airports, Instagram lunches, chat-room, covering political protests in my hometown (see pictures at Flickr,) “breaking” tech news and all the usual yada yada.
But RSS is different
And most importantly, not a competitor. Well, back in the early days (2007-2008) one could argue that possibly those two technologies could compete — but not anymore.
RSS is not instant, yet it is contemporary. This is a very important logical step to make. Think of RSS as your contemporary, although not 100% real-time, editorial and commentary on all things interesting for you. You know, the aforementioned list without the Instagram-lunch tweets.
Twitter is like Reuters and Associated Press; RSS is like Time and The Economist (or any other similar media outlet based on your interests.) A good curated news platform customized by you. With the things you care about and all. And of course, there are several ways to read your RSS feeds; the most prominent one is Google Reader (I can also recommend Reeder app for iOS.)
Now, one could think of ways to make better the curation flow and how to organize your feeds, how to find new blogs and relevant information, etc — but this is not our topic.
In the same way we can distinguish between Flipboard and Zite. Though the differences are not based on time-relevancy. I will follow-up.