In my opinion, RSS is one of the oldest technologies that has more implications today than ever before. In recent years we’ve seen a huge increase in online activity, that’s especially true with the rise of social media. We’re spending more and more time mindless consuming content without giving it a second thought. Imagine an open standard that allowed you to subscribe and receive content from (almost) every website on the internet.
There are multiple reasons why we spend so much time on social media. First, social media provide a timeline of endless information. There’s always something new to see and consume. Second, social media algorithms are getting better and better, recommending things to keep us engaged. And last, social media entraps us – it’s way harder to leave, for example Facebook, because many of your friends are on there and you use the platform to communicate and engage on daily basis.
RSS solves most of those problems in a simple elegant way. RSS is an open protocol that most online blogs and websites use to send out their content. For example, you can subscribe to Zheano Blog via RSS. To subscribe and receive content from Zheano Blog via RSS you need an RSS reader. Many RSS readers are web-based, applications for Android and iOS, browser extensions, Windows, macOS, and Linux apps.
Whatever application/service you use to receive and read RSS, the core principle stays the same. The service lets you subscribe to the RSS feeds. Once subscribed, you receive all the content from that blog or website into your RSS application. Some applications also allow you to read the content without leaving the application and without and distraction.
You can also subscribe to Twitter accounts and YouTube channels using RSS. Here’s the list why RSS is better than social media. Your RSS feed is not curated and articles/content aren’t displayed by algorithms. RSS also limits your distractions and gives you a better experience without the “Do you agree to accept cookies?” and other popups. With RSS you’re also in control of blogs and publications you subscribe to.
RSS also doesn’t entrap you. You can use whatever client you want and you can switch between them easily since most of the clients support the import/export feature. Since RSS is an open standard there’s also no centralized system to control, censor or manage the content. Most of the blogs and websites have their own RSS feed hosted on their servers.
There are some limitations to RSS unfortunately. While it’s great that you only get to see the content you subscribe to, there’s no way to find new creators. Some blogs and websites also only publish part of the story to the RSS so you have to visit their website. I guess that the second issue isn’t as problematic since the main point of RSS, to get the content you subscribe to, is completed.
Do you use RSS? Let me know in the comments below what are your favorite RSS apps.