Getting (back!) into RSS

Here is a noteworthy thing: RSS, a decades old technology, is still alive and well. And after many years away, I am using it once again.

Inspired by Chris, I decided to download NetNewsWire and start with a clean slate. I also picked up Feedbin for syncing between devices. Best decision I’ve made all year.

RSS stands for Really Simple Syndication. It became very popular maybe 15 years ago, when Google Reader was a thing. Google Reader allowed you to follow your favorite blogs, and it would notify you whenever a new post appeared. The technology was very simple, and that was part of why it was so effective: anyone could understand it, anyone could use it, and by its very nature it only ever showed you what you specifically asked to see.

In our modern day of algorithms and media moguls deciding what we see and read on a day to day basis, it feels like a breath of fresh air.

RSS is not only liberating because I get to choose my own content; it also helps me to consume a far more diverse set of content. Most of my reading, for the last several years anyway, has come through social media. This is a problem, because social media likes to show us content that we like (or that makes us angry), because then we’ll spent more time on social media.

RSS doesn't give a darn. All content is equal in the mind of an RSS reader, and thus you see a wider range of content, even content you might disagree with (gasp). This is a very good thing: it broadens your horizons and exercises your mind.

If you haven’t already, I would encourage you to give RSS a try. If you want to join me on the RSS train, I have a few tips for you:

  • Find an app that is clean and as simple as possible. If the app isn't easy to use, you probably won’t use it, so make sure it’s nice. Spend a few dollars if you can afford it. I used Feedly for a while but it didn't really click, if your first choice doesn't work for you, try something else.
  • Subscribe to lots of feeds at first, even if they don’t look that interesting to you. Unsubscribing is easy if it isn't a good fit, but you won’t know if it fits until you read a few articles to get a feel for it.
  • Jump on your social media and if you see any links that interest you, check if the website has a feed. The more interesting things you can move to your reader, the less time you'll need to spend on social media, and the more actual reading you'll do.
  • If you do any reading online, some (or all) of the sites you regularly read probably have feeds. News networks, blogs, cooking sites, many businesses, most of them have feeds you can follow with RSS. Add your most commonly visited sites into your reader, and you'll get even more out of them.
  • You can even get RSS of YouTube channels, if, like me, you often avoid YouTube to avoid the algorithm pulling you in. RSS solves that! You can RSS your favorite channels, and cut out the algorithmic middle man.

In addition, here's a few websites with feeds that I enjoy to prime the pump:

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