RSS, why didth I abandon ye?

Sometime around when Google Reader shut down, I fell off of RSS. The idea was good in theory, but I found myself usually just visiting the same few sites anyway, and getting a lot more of my content from aggregators like Hacker News. It was also a little exhausting. I was treating my feeds like yet another inbox that I had to go in and zero every day. That was a terrible idea.

Tired of Twitter, and not finding enough consistently good content on HN, I logged into my dilapidated Feedly account for the first time in five years. There were thousands of unread items, but everything was still working fine.

I was also pleasantly surprised to find that there was a new version of Reeder released in late 2020. It was already one of the best apps every made for macOS, and Reeder 5 makes it even better.

Screenshot of Reeder on macOS.
Screenshot of Reeder on macOS.

This time around, I’m not treating it like an inbox. Whenever I open my feeds, I click on items from the last few days, and only the ones that look interesting. Everything else just piles up. Reeder conveniently allows you to disable the “number of unread items” badge icon, which I’ve done with enthusiasm.

I’ve also unsubscribed from feeds that post too often. I buy Marco’s argument that RSS is about capturing the long tail of blogs that don’t post all that often, but you want to hear from when they do. My ideal feed posts 0 to 1 articles per day, with an average closer to zero. Sites that produce more content than that drown everything else out, and can still be visited directly if I’m interested enough to do so.

One of the things I found a little disconcerting as I was reorganizing feeds after a long absence is just how many had become defunct. I pruned dozens of previous subscribed blogs which either hadn’t posted anything in many years, or were completely gone from the internet. I’ll miss those. Many were quite good.

Some erosion in the blogosphere should be expected, but it was a worrying sign that people are creating less, and choosing walled gardens more, even amongst the technical community. Writing a blog post takes time and nets minimal interaction. Posting on Twitter takes only seconds, and produces an immediate dopamine hit as the likes start rolling in. Hopefully platforms like Substack can reverse some of this, but it’s not a good trend.

As you might be able to imagine, this site has feeds for everything. Join me in a healthier ecosystem and subscribe:

RSS, why didth I abandon ye?

January 24, 2021

Find me on Twitter at @brandur.

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