Both Neville Hobson and Steve Rubel jump on the RSS icon bandwagon, saying that it’s incumbent on blog and website publishers to get the icon that Mozille and Microsoft teams agreed upon on their blogs. I’ll think I’ll just stay right I am and not jump into action right now, thank you.
As Tom Biro and I both said icons are all well and good and having a standard icon for RSS could certainly help with mass-adoption of the technology, but the main factor that will influence usage is education. If people have time they devote to creating standards, how about creating a standard “how-to” guide for visitors to your site to read that will explain to them in simple, easy to understand terms, how to subscribe to the feed.
When someone asks me how to use RSS here’s what usually follows:
ME: “When you see that orange chicklet – or text that says ‘subscribe to this feed’ – then right click and copy the link…”
THEM: “What do you mean copy the link?”
ME: You should have the option when you right-click to ‘copy link location.’ Select that. Then go to your aggregator…”
THEM: Could you explain the aggregator again?”
ME: (ponders public suicide)
The company that takes the lead on this public education program could very well be seen as the Jonas Salk of the information age. Allowing everyone to choose a technology that lets them select content that can be viewed on their schedule in an easy to skim and read format would be a huge step forward.
The two ideas actually need to be combined. Everyone sign on to a standard icon but have that icon point to a standard definition/usage guide. Within that the publication can list their RSS feeds. That way both goals are accomplished.