really simple syndication

I am immediately distrustful of claims made of simplicity or honesty. usually these properties are self-evident. truly simple or honest people/ideas don’t need to be labeled as such. but “really” simple? probably not.

while I won’t defend the name, I support the goal of RSS, enabling anyone to become a publisher in a light-weight, publish/subscribe framework for human knowledge.

the RSS feed is one way of accomplishing the distribution of content, and one which has been around for a long time. many of you will already be familiar with it, some will be meta-happy to be reading this work about RSS via my RSS feed. I have a lot to say about RSS and its successors, so I’m starting with the basics here.

but why?

for me the “why” is deep and will take some layers to get at. in the immediate sense, RSS is something I use every day. I have a list of collected feeds that I like to read content from. I no longer read print newspapers, though long ago I did. when I have suggested that a replacement for the clearly broken culture of the “news media” is long-form content, RSS feeds are exactly what I was referring to. it is possible to remember each of these sources, and every day type them out and navigate to them to see if there’s new content. one could also favorite them and run down the list daily. but since we all have limited amounts of attention to spend, we’d like to make the most of it, and only spend time on exploring branches that will yield fruits.

one minor improvement of reading feeds over visiting sites is the streamlining of consumption, you slide right past a lot of the distractions designed to lodge you in the hooks of the site, snaring your attention on other content, advertisements, etc. the experience shifts slightly from being about attention grabbing, by any means necessary, to having to compete for your attention by providing content you want.

there’s a lot to say about RSS. I’ll let this be the first instalment of a multi-part conversation. for now, I’ll leave you with one of my favorite blogs, Seth Godin’s Blog and its RSS feed.

here’s what Seth had so say about RSS:

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2021-03-07 18:00 -0600