RSS is still the way.
I’ve written about the utility and idealism of RSS in the past, but I think enough time has passed for us to reflect on whether the anti-RSS decade we’ve just been through worked for anyone.
Were consumers better off?
Were publishers better off?
How do you personally feel about these kinds of content?
- Personalized updates for changes across the web
There are many who fall into a gray area with limited RSS options, but you probably see where I’m going.
Over time, it’s become obvious that RSS-unfriendly companies and technologies tend to:
- Burn out
- Steal your time, data, and attention
- Run into trouble with the law
- Develop negative brands/reputations
I think it’s about control and advertising.
RSS represents a loss of control for many – especially to the new generation of founders and developers, who never knew a web without gates.
That loss of control means it’s harder to extract easy, safe money in the short term. When a recession looms, those ties to the open web are among the first things cut (aside from the Marketing department). Short-term money is needed, no matter what the damage to long-term reputation.
But embracing that loss of control enables ideas to spread faster and be adopted wider. Being more open is scary, but that’s what makes a bet…a bet.
RSS isn‘t at the core of all of that, of course. I don’t even think it’s a consideration for those at the top of these companies. But I do think it has become a useful business indicator.
If a company offers RSS, they probably care more about their users‘ experience. They’re usually a better company.
If they don’t offer RSS when they technically could, you shouldn‘t care too much about them. They will eventually burn you and themselves.
If a creator embraces RSS, I find the same to be true — whether it’s a part of their consumption or creation.
Guard your time and attention by placing as much of your consumption in RSS as possible. From first-hand knowledge, the mental health benefits can’t be overstated. Take control over what your feeds look like and who gets to populate them.
Create and share in the most open ways possible. It’s tempting to give attention to the silos, but the payoff is hollow.
If the internet has enough of a history to teach us anything, it has taught us:
- Open wins.
- Open is sane.
- Open lasts.