I have a confession of sorts to make: having a mobile device has spoiled me as an information junkie. Where I used to imagine how it would be to have access to all kinds of information in the palm of my hand, now I have it and it is quite amazing. With the various kinds of ability to be wireless (Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and cellular), there are just so many things on the Web that are just out there for the picking. However, there was always one pain in getting to that information that has never seemed to be quite fluid enough: the web browser.
It didn’t matter what device that I was using (laptop, PDA, smartphone, etc.), it just seemed that there would be some compromise in looking at the web site through a means that was just not consistent or interactive enough for me to call it a flowing experience.
That pain was much more felt on the mobile device side of things, where I was forced to use programs and conduits to compress and reformat content so that my mobile device could digest it. And while that was all well and good for getting the content, the extra time that I spent in front of the computer setting that up was just not fun at all. Then something really neat entered the scene: RSS.
The RSS Revelation
RSS, or Really Simple Syndication, quickly became my best friend on my work computer. As a web site developer and a person who is online constantly, RSS let me keep up with a chunk of the news and content that I would otherwise spend too much time typing in the address bar or clicking on favorites.
Using RSS became a means to get info quickly and easily without having to go to the web site itself. I could set up my feed aggregator program or web browser to point to that RSS feed for the respective web site, and then I would just have to open a panel to see what new information was out there for reading. I could even pick and choose which articles to read, instead of having to scroll to the top, middle, or bottom of a page for just the one good article that I wanted. It was just very simple and easy.
But then something hit me. If I could use RSS while I was sitting at a computer, wouldn’t it make sense to use RSS while I was on the go?
The Mobile RSS Revelation
Most of the time that I am commuting I can read news and catch up on comments and editorials. And, unlike a book, but very much like a newspaper, I can schedule it to be updated and delivered to me when I want it; making for fresh content.
I was accustomed to doing this on my handheld via programs like AvantGo and Plucker for full web site pages, but RSS has the advantage in that it takes up less space on my device, and, depending on the reader that I am using, I don’t need a connection to my desktop at all.
RSS was starting to look like a really simple solution to the watershed of information that I wanted to read and keep track of.
As I have become more and more tuned to the world of mobile technology and the mobile Internet, I have come to ask myself this question: Is there being a need for mobile browsing in the browser sense of the word, or should I be thinking of mobile gathering in the RSS sense of the word?
Sure, there are those times when I need the ability access Google Maps to get directions, or to be able to long into my bank’s web site to do a few transactions. But that was the full extent to which I was using the browser for my mobile Web experience.
For all intents and purposes, RSS was filling the need to get mobile information, and it did it in a smaller application, was much easier to update, and — depending on the reader I used — had a cleaner interface than programs like AvantGo.
This makes me wonder if the mobile Web really needs to take off in our browsers as a reproduction of what we get on our desktops and laptops, or if it needs to be more centered around the "content is king" methodology that RSS seems to stand for.
If the latter is true, then RSS is already here and there is not much more that needs to be done.
Summing It All Up
Most content heavy web sites offer RSS feeds for their content as well, so that part of the content equation is solved. There is also a plethora of programs and services that allow you to have RSS feeds come into a separate program, or even to your inbox as an email message.
RSS is really just content. And for mobile devices, that’s all that we really want when we go online, anyway. Could the solution to making mobile browsing more widespread be that simple? I think it is.