RSS is still great. And needed. More now than ever
RSS was great??? What do you mean “WAS”?
A couple weeks ago I posted on Facebook the reason why (to read news, at least) you need RSS instead of “social” media. One reader asked “which RSS reader do you recommend?” Another commented nostalgically:
“Man, RSS was such a better system. I miss Internet 1.5”
“Internet 1.5” is a great definition that I am going to “steal”. But that statement is wrong.
“WAS”? NO way!
RSS still is a much better system. It never stopped to be. What happened is that it was (sometimes deliberately) abandoned, made unusable, or simply neglected (see below). The motivations vary, but the result is always the same: to create the mess we have to swim in now. Until a few years ago, Facebook did provide an RSS feed of all its notifications from contacts, groups, pages and so on. I used that feed with great pleasure, great productivity and much less tracking.
As you can see from the mockup above (which is part of my proposal to go beyond Facebook & Friends, thanks to that RSS feed, I could read the whole stream of Facebook and Twitter notifications as one part of the same, single list of “news” in the same RSS aggregator I used to read the headlines from CNN or any other news source I care about: in bulk, ONCE A DAY when I feel like it. Without tracking, ads or any profit-driven algorithm closing me inside echo chambers or filter bubbles of their choice.
RSS helps make the world a better place
If everybody received and read all their notifications from whatever social network as one RSS feed, I am sure that everybody would gain a lot of time. Above all, I cannot prove it, but I am almost sure that a great part of the fights, callouts, deplatforming wars and so on inside social networks would simply not happen.
But few years ago Facebook deleted that RSS feature, because of course they need their users to drown in there AND HERE ONLY, fueling each other’s frustrations and anger, 24/7.
And what is really bad is that, instead of demanding the RSS feed to be restored, every politician and “expert” including presidential candidates, continued to insist on pointless “break ups” of Facebook. Smart, indeed. More on why mandating RSS-like changes to Facebook or any other social network is the first thing to do is here.
Which RSS reader do I recommend?
As far as that other question is concerned… To be 100% honest, I don’t know. Because for years now I have been using a self-built system on Linux to aggregate feeds and tweets. It’s code that works perfect for me, but not usable by non-geeks.
So, the only recommendation I can give is “check which of the web-based aggregators listed here are still alive (e.g. Digg isn’t…), and go for the least worst you can find”. Until something better becomes really usable, that is.
An example: RSS on Silicon Republic
Silicon Republic defines itself “Ireland’s No 1 resource for science and technology news”. A few days ago, I decided I wanted to follow them, but saw no RSS link or icon on their home page. After some searching I found it, but not in plain sight, and this led to this exchance on Twitter:
- me: “Hey @siliconrepublic, why don’t you have a WORKING RSS feed link in your webpage? What is the correct URL? Thanks”
- Silicon Republic: “Hi there, You can find details for all of our RSS news feeds here… Our main feed URL is siliconrepublic.com/feed. Thanks for reaching out!"
- me: “thanks for the prompt answer. But I should have NOT had to reach out for something like this. It is VERY bad that any media, even more if it’s all about “digital” & #Hightech as you, doesn’t put its RSS icon front and center on every page. VERY bad. See here why”
This morning I checked again and YAY! There is now an RSS icon on their footer. That’s the way to go! Tell all the websites you want to follow to do the same, if they aren’t: