Wired is calling for an RSS revival.

RSS is the most important piece of internet plumbing for following new content from a wide range of sources. It allows you to download new updates from your favourite sites automatically and read them at your leisure. Dave Winer, forever dedicated to the open web, created it.

I used to be a very heavy RSS user. I tracked hundreds of sources on a daily basis. Not as news but as a way to stay informed about the activities and thoughts of people I was interested in. At some point, that stopped working. Popular RSS readers were discontinued, most notably Google’s RSS reader, many people migrated to the Facebook timeline, platforms like Twitter stopped providing RSS feeds to make you visit their platform, and many people stopped blogging. But with FB in the spotlight, there is some interest in refocusing on the open web, and with it on RSS.

Currently I am repopulating from scratch my RSS reading ‘antenna’, following around 100 people again.

Wired in its call for an RSS revival suggests a few RSS readers. I, as I always have, use a desktop RSS reader, which currently is ReadKit. The FB timeline presents stuff to you based on their algorithmic decisions. As mentioned I definitely would like to have smarter ways of shaping my own information diet, but then with me in control and not the one being commoditised.

So it’s good to read that RSS Reader builders are looking at precisely that.
“Machines can have a big role in helping understand the information, so algorithms can be very useful, but for that they have to be transparent and the user has to feel in control. What’s missing today with the black-box algorithms is where they look over your shoulder, and don’t trust you to be able to tell what’s right.”,says Edwin Khodabakchian cofounder and CEO of RSS reader Feedly (which currently has 14 million users). That is more or less precisely my reasoning as well.

3 reactions on “Time for an RSS Revival

  1. Ton muses about an RSS Revival:

    RSS is the most important piece of internet plumbing for following new content from a wide range of sources. It allows you to download new updates from your favourite sites automatically and read them at your leisure. Dave Winer, forever dedicated to the open web, created it.

    I used to be a very heavy RSS user. I tracked hundreds of sources on a daily basis. Not as news but as a way to stay informed about the activities and thoughts of people I was interested in. At some point, that stopped working. Popular RSS readers were discontinued, most notably Google’s RSS reader, many people migrated to the Facebook timeline, platforms like Twitter stopped providing RSS feeds to make you visit their platform, and many people stopped blogging. But with FB in the spotlight, there is some interest in refocusing on the open web, and with it on RSS.

    I’ve been an emitter and consumer of RSS feeds since the very beginning, and so, for me, there’s no need for a revival, as I never left. I currently have 86 RSS feeds in my RSS reader, ranging from Ton’s blog itself to security alerts to CBC news headlines to the blogs of several Prince Edward Island MLAs:

    For the longest time, like many others, I consumed RSS feeds in Google Reader; when it was shut down by Google, I replaced this with a self-hosted instance of Tiny Tiny RSS, a serviceable replacement.

    When I’m using my laptop, I read my RSS feeds in Tiny Tiny RSS’s web interface in a browser:

    When I’m on my Android phone, I use the Tiny Tiny RSS app, which syncs itself with the server so that what I’ve read and what I haven’t is always current:

    I self-host Tiny Tiny RSS, rather than using a third-party service like Feedly, because, well, once-bitten-twice-shy: I don’t want my RSS consumption to be dependent on the corporate whims of an RSS reader company. Besides, what’s the point of taking a collection of independent, decentralized feeds and centralizing them?

    That said, I recognize that running a personal Tiny Tiny RSS server is outside the realm of possibility for most people. I also recognize that a lot of RSS nomenclature, including the name RSS itself, stands as a barrier to a lot of people. So there’s work to be done here to catalyze the revival that Ton writes about, a revival that, despite my own perseverance, I fully support and see the benefits of.

    RSS | Weblogging

  2. Something else worth mentioning is that many people who used to be bloggers “went underground” and migrated to writing email newsletters. While I subscribe to several of these, I lament the darkness that they cloak content in, the lack of an archive, the lack of searchability, the impossibility of linking from the web, and so on. I’ve never completely understood the rationale for this migration, and I wish the newsletterers would consider coming back into the light.

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