In my last article I explored the benefits of providing a single index page to show all the RSS news feeds that your intranet (or website) provides. A simple page to browse and pick n choose your subscriptions from.
I might have gone so far as to say that RSS is no longer new, and that lots of people are comfortable subscribing to the BBC’s news feeds.
Not everyone’s comfortable though are they? Those among us who aren’t too technically savvy, and don’t keep up to date with new software and web stuff may not have a clue what we’re talking about when we say ‘RSS’, ‘subscription’ and even ‘news feed’.
Those of us who publish online, or have our own blog / web site often forget that the majority of people use the web for specific tasks, and get on and get off quite quickly. They might use Facebook for 20 minutes a day, but they don’t browse Google News and they don’t take any time to ‘discover’ new websites just for the pleasure of gaining new insights. They search for information, read a web page or two, then they get off and head back into the lounge for some tele and tea! They don’t know what ‘The Register‘ is and they don’t care who Scoble is. They check out YouTube when a friend emails / Facebooks them a link, but they don’t spend time browsing blogrolls.
And these are the people who work within our companies. They write unclear emails, create badly designed Word documents, send round Excel files that have no headings or title and don’t always know that they can have their email program open at the same time as Word. In short, they don’t care what Windows or Macs can do for them, they just want to get their job done without having to learn anything.
Harsh? Maybe I’ve worded it in a heavy manner, but I don’t think I’m inaccurate, and I don’t mean to be insulting. Most people just don’t care about the things I care about. I care about efficiency, fewer mouse clicks, keyboard shortcuts, correct fonts, small file sizes et cetera. Few other people do, and that’s why I get called a geek, and that’s why people ring me at 10pm when their computer freezes.
So, considering the workforce, the people we’re trying to engage, communicate and work with, how the hell do we ask them to subscribe to a news feed? How do we show them what a News Reader is and how to use it? If you’re in an office with 12 people, go ahead and install a Reader on each person’s computer and show them how to use it. An office of 500? A fieldforce of 5000? I just don’t know.
So that’s the question: how to get people to subscribe to your new intranet news feed? No, not your personal blog. Blog readers on the WWW are a different demographic; they know a little about blogs and can be shown how to subscribe. I’m asking, how do we explain RSS, subscriptions and Readers to a workforce that don’t even care what a ‘browser’ is (lots of people don’t know that they use ‘Internet Explorer’, they think it’s the only way on to the web).[Wedge]
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Nice post, Wedge.
I explore this issue and the cultural barriers in my article “Enteprise RSS is not dead, it’s still being born” : http://intranetblog.blogware.com/blog/_archives/2009/2/3/4080215.html
I continue exploring it in the very next (subsequent) post: “Intranet RSS on the rise, but…”
it’s really cool to read what you know about Enterprise RSS Readers. Getting decent software in front of our people is a major hurdle, then getting our intranets to provide decent RSS feeds is the next, and then there’s the culture hurdle of getting people to understand and care about news feeds, like my rant above says.