A love letter to RSS

It has recently come to my attention that the technology I assumed foundational to the internet as I know it, RSS, is not something that everyone is aware of and using.

The internet has gone through several generations and people’s interactions and habits along with it. Web 1.0 was an era of web portals, Web 2.0 the era of search and social and now the more recent generation where decentralisation, AI and IndieWeb are the topics of exploration.

RSS is the technology of the Web 1.0 era, before Google, when the best way to find content was to subscribe to sites you were interested in. With the internet now full of adverts, content blockers and increasingly being filled by AI generated content, we can in effect say Google killed the internet as we know it.

Despite Google’s attempts to also kill off RSS, the technology still lives on and has now been gaining fresh popularity, not only because of the poor state of search and internet content but because of the rise of decentralised social media which supports this technology. This is leading to a whole new generation of people (maybe some of you) who have recently discovered RSS.

So, yeah I love RSS

Here it is - I love RSS. You can see from my other posts that it is a technology that is foundational to my personal knowledge management using Readwise. With just a simple little published xml file, I can subscribe to websites and podcasts never missing a single post. Little communities form with sites recommending other sites and this little network effect builds to a very personalised version of the web tuned not by algorithms but my self-selected interests. Find something I don’t like - unsubscribe and be done with it.

I publish this site with an RSS feed for text and a feed for audio for exactly the same reason. I want to contribute to the discourse of my own little network and hope that a few new people join along the way.

Blogs and Podcasts aren’t the only thing available through RSS these days. You can now even subscribe to social media through RSS and a few folks are taking control of their own content through the IndieWeb, which means we’re starting to see the early signs of the coming together of two different generations of the web into something that feels new and exciting.

Now go and enjoy it

So if you’re reading this and genuinely new to RSS then I’m so happy for you as it’s the start of a great journey (take a look here and here). However, if you’re an experienced RSS connoisseur then reach out and share with me your tools, your use-cases and the content you love.

I love RSS, and I hope you do too.