A few thoughts on RSS
The other day I wrote about RSS but I took a few things for granted—mainly that people knew about RSS in the first place and that they also knew how to use them and what tools are available.
So what is RSS? The way I can describe it in a non-technical way is that it's a tool websites have at their disposal to offer users a way to consume their content that doesn't rely on them visiting the site through a browser. An RSS feed is not that different in spirit to what you're probably now accustomed to seeing on social media platforms. Instagram, Twitter and others have feeds that, in a perfect world, should be chronological and not compromised. That perfect world still exists—to some extent—if you use RSS. And that's because feeds are kinda dumb in a way. You subscribe to one using an app (more on this later) and they're refreshed at a regular interval. And that's about it. There's generally no curation involved, no custom sorting, no feature overload. It's just content.
Now, in order to consume an RSS feed you need an RSS reader, and those come in a variety of different shapes and sizes. Some are web based, some are native apps, some are free and open source, others are commercial and closed source. Which one works best for you, that's not for me to decide, but I'm gonna leave a list to a few here if you want to poke around and experiment.
If you decide to give RSS a try I have a few suggestions for you. These are all based on my experience but different people might have a different take on how to use RSS, so if you're one of them and have written about it, let me know and I'll be happy to link to your post. So, my advice for you is:
- Keep your feed under control. Don't subscribe to too many feeds and periodically go through the list and remove the ones that don't provide value to your life.
- Avoid feeds that are too busy. Don't subscribe to feeds that push content out on a daily basis.
- Disable all notifications from your RSS reader. Unread messages counter, email notifications, push notifications—turn everything off.
- Subscribe to content that is not time sensitive. Only read and poke around your feeds when you have time to read something and you're in the right mood.
RSS is a bit of a relic of another time, when the internet was slower and things were under your control, and those are all excellent qualities to have in 2022 if you ask me.