Monday, July 2, 2018

Reclaiming RSS

Aral Balkan (via Matt Birchler):

Before Twitter, before algorithmic timelines filtered our reality for us, before surveillance capitalism, there was RSS: Really Simple Syndication.


Time was, you couldn’t browse the web without seeing RSS icons of all persuasions gracing the façades of Web 1.0’s finest. This was before they were mercilessly devoured by the tracking devices … ahem … “social sharing buttons” of people farmers like Google and Facebook.

There was also once a push for browsers to auto-detect and expose RSS feeds. Currently, none of the major browsers appears to do so.

Andy Baio:

Google ostensibly killed Reader because of declining usage, but it was a self-inflicted wound. A 2011 redesign removed all its social features, replaced with Google+ integration, destroying an amazing community in the process.

The audience for Google Reader would never be as large or as active as modern social networks, but it was a critical and useful tool for independent writers and journalists, and for the dedicated readers who subscribed to their work.

There are great feedreaders out there — I use Feedly myself, but people love Newsblur, Feedbin, Inoreader, The Old Reader, etc. But Google Reader was a community and not easily replaced. Google fragmented an entire ecosystem, for no good reason, and it never recovered.

Previously: Google’s Lost Social Network, Google Reader Over and Out, Google Reader Apocalypse.

Update (2018-07-05): Nick Heer:

Badges, buttons, and links to RSS feeds used to be all over the web; now, they’re almost like a nerd calling card — it’s an indication that a website is cool with an audience reading new material on their terms. I’d like to think there’s a certain confidence in a website indicating to its readers that it doesn’t need a precise count of how many people visited the website, nor does it need all the tracking and surveillance nonsense that comes with that.

2 Comments RSS · Twitter


RSS is vital to me. I don't follow any social network. The noise to information ratio is far to high. This is my only way to follow news sites and blog I want to read.

"Time was, you couldn’t browse the web without seeing RSS icons of all persuasions gracing the façades of Web 1.0’s finest."

Hint: the open web is still there if you use Firefox instead of Chrome. Just about every blog I visit causes an RSS icn to appear in Firefox's address bar. And dozens of RSS readers exist to make use of them. Not a day goes by that i don't click on one of the feeds in my news folder to see if so-and-so has updated their blog wuth a new post.

Leave a Comment