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.