Survey Results Show Most Americans Have No Clue About RSS

A new data brief from the Pew Internet & American Life project titled: The average American internet user is not sure what podcasting is, what an RSS feed does, or what the term “phishing” means, looks at the results of a just completed survey.

The results show only 9% of those surveyed had a “good idea” of what the term RSS means. 65% weren’t sure and 26% had never heard of the term.

Only 13% of those surveyed had a “good idea” of what a podcasting is.

Those of us who watch the web, web tools, and web search closely (including myself) often forget that many of the things we talk about all day, everyday (and the services we use) still aren’t even close to making it into the vocabulary or onto the desktops of the masses.

As the survey’s discussion points out, technology terms and ideas take time to emerge in the mindset of the general public. However, I often wonder if the usefulness that so many leading edge types believe that syndication, feeds, etc. offer are to reach the mainstream, calling it something other than RSS (as see on on many web sites) might be worthy of consideration. Of course, the cynical person in me wonders if the public even cares, will ever care, or really needs to know about RSS and other tools in the first place.

Thanks to SC for the tip.

Postscript: Lee Rainie, Project Director, of the Pew Internet & American Life Project saw my post and sent along a comment. He writes:

I think your take on it [the survey] is perfect. It’s useful to remember every once in a while that lots of people don’t
obsessively focus on the things that fire the imagination of bleeding edgers.

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