A Toast, Then, To RSS

Molly White, in her excellent review of Chris Dixon's Read Write Own book, made me laugh. Over the years the reports of RSS' death have been greatly exaggerated. And yet people still trot that line out.

Attempts to create alternatives have all failed, he says, before going on to describe several projects that are very much still in use, such as the RSS and ActivityPub protocols, or federated social media projects like Mastodon. RSS is dead, he repeats endlessly throughout the book.

It's profoundly weird to read RSS's obituary as a person who checks her very-much-still-alive feed reader several times a day to get everything from cryptocurrency news to dinner ideas, and who rarely encounters a website that doesn't provide a functional feed.

Good heavens reader. The tech you're using to read this very post is . Bummer.

RSS then, fully alive and well in 2024, powering the podcast industry, and keeping the independent publishing flame alive.

I'm reminded of a great post from Giles Turnbull a couple years back on what using RSS feels like:

This post was prompted by a conversation with a 20-something colleague, who had never heard of RSS. I shared the link to aboutfeeds.com, but after reading it my colleague was still baffled. "I don't understand," they said. "Why would you use something like this?" This post is an attempt to answer that question.

It's a really good read. And he's right when he says it's better than the endless scroll of social media.

The only way of moving through hundreds of items on a social media feed is to scroll through everything. Maybe it feels faster, but I don't think it really is faster, because it numbs your brain to input. Your thumb keeps scrolling, but your eyes stop taking things in.


If you're reading this, you already know the virtues of RSS, and nothing here is news to you.

RSS is dead! Long live RSS.


4 responses to “A Toast, Then, To RSS”

  1. Dave2 says:

    How do you know that I don't check your blog five times a day looking to see if you've posted again?

  2. Karen says:

    RSS is dead my foot. Sure, it may have taken a wound when Google got rid of Reader (RIP – that was my favorite way to read webcomics, blogs, etc. for YEARS), but it's firmly holding on.

    Since I've been making my way away from the majority of social media accounts, I'm being reminded of how GOOD a curated RSS feed is. I can read my emails and my blogs while I have my coffee in the morning, like I used to, and it's wonderful.

    • kevin says:

      I'm not still bitter at all about Google Reader's demise Man, those were certainly the good old days of RSS weren't they?

      I don't like to heap any praise on Elon Musk, but the Twitter enshittification over the last 12+ months has me more enthusiastic for the self publishing indieweb than ever.