Back to top

RSS feeds, browsing and end-user engagement

Mary Elizabeth Ross West
Major Professor: 
Carol Tenopir
Committee Members: 
Suzie Allard,
Kimberly Douglass
April 2011

Abstract: Despite the vast amount of research that has been devoted separately to the topics of browsing and Really Simple Syndication (RSS) aggregation architecture, little is known about how end-users engage with RSS feeds and how they browse while using a feed aggregate. This study explores the browsing behaviors end-users exhibit when using RSS and Atom feeds. The researcher analyzed end-users’ browsing experiences and discusses browsing variations. The researcher observed, tested, and interviewed eighteen (N=18) undergraduate students at the University of Tennessee to determine how end-users engage with RSS feeds.

This study evaluates browsing using two variations of tasks, (1) an implicit task with no final goal and (2) an explicit task with a final goal. The researcher observed the participants complete the two tasks and conducted exit interviews, which addressed the end-users’ experiences with Google Reader and provided further explanation of browsing behaviors. The researcher analyzed the browsing behaviors based upon Bates’ (2007) definitions and characteristics of browsing. The results of this exploratory research provide insights into end-user interaction with RSS feeds.