Mail.app’s RSS/Notification Sweet Spot

Shawn Blanc:

…of all those who do use RSS, how many use Mail or Safari to follow their RSS feeds? I don’t know a single person who does.

My sister uses Mail for RSS, but here’s something you have to know about her.

For starters, she is using a 2004 era iBook. She’s running Leopard. It’s the latest OS she can use. Over the years we’ve maxed out her machine with a bigger drive, as much RAM as it can take (640megs?). Her machine is 8 years old and still going, which is a testament to not only how low her computing demands are, but on how long you can hold onto a Mac before wanting to throw it out the window, which I want to do for her but her only complaint is that she can’t use Hulu on it.

So she uses Mail for RSS after I taught her that it would be an easy way to keep up with my site, my Flickr photos, Toothpaste For Dinner and Natalie Dee. She got the idea.

She does not read the news like us. She doesn’t know what Reeder is. Has no idea what NetNewsWire is. She doesn’t use RSS for news, she uses it for notifications.

And that’s been Mail’s sweet spot for RSS; not news, but for notifications. In an office, if you use Mail in an Exchange environment, you may be using Sharepoint for your Intranet. But Sharepoint doesn’t work well with Macs. Despite it being all in your browser it is still heavily dependent on IE and Outlook. Fortunately, you can get an RSS feed out of almost anything on it, including Calendars, new documents uploaded to a Workspace: stuff that isn’t NEWS but is a notification you may need to know about.

Of course, RSS is for power users, and you could easily set up an email notification for Sharepoint too. And since RSS didn’t quite catch on, email notifications do just fine.

…I think I just convinced myself to change all my intra-office RSS feeds into email notifications.