Ever since the fall of Google Reader, RSS — RDF Site Summary, Rich Site Summary or Really Simple Syndication — depending on who you ask, has struggled to maintain the same level of popularity it once had. And it’s a shame.
RSS has, instead, been replaced by Facebook feeds and Twitter timelines. While these services are useful for keeping in touch with your friends and family, they have locked content behind logins and proprietary algorithms. Giant corporations track your reading habits and sell your information to the highest bidder, all in an attempt to shove as much information into your face as possible.
What’s the solution?
RSS and Atom feeds have been around for a while. But now there’s even more reasons to use them than ever. Compared to Facebook and Twitter, RSS gives you a few advantages.
Read whatever you want
If you use an RSS reader, you can subscribe to any website that supports it, no matter what. You don’t have to wait for the authors to share links on Facebook (if the website even has a Facebook page). You don’t have to wait for somebody on your following list to tweet it out. Just add the address of the website to your favourite RSS reader and it will take care of the rest.
No pesky algorithms that decide for you
When you read RSS, you read a lot. You get a full feed of all the new posts published on the website you’re following, whether you’re interested. The upside is that you don’t have an algorithm deciding what to hide from you. The downside is that you have to sift through a lot of information to find what you need. Luckily, some RSS readers such as Inoreader offer filters that help you focus through the noise, giving you the best of both worlds.
Fast updates from almost any website
That web comic you’ve been reading doesn’t have a Twitter account and you don’t want to open a Facebook profile just for this. You want to get notified when your local newspaper published something about your neighborhood online. You want to track when an item on Amazon drops below a certain level.
Does any of that sound familiar? RSS feeds can help with all of that and so much more.
What is this blog?
I will be sharing my experience with RSS feeds on this blog. I will give you tips on everything I use them for, such as see when my name is mentioned on the internet and get notified of cheap tickets for planes departing from my hometown.
I’m also looking forward to hearing from you! If you have any tips on how you use RSS creatively, leave a comment here, email me or shoot me a message on Facebook or Twitter.