In an age of information overload, RSS is king
Hands up if you remember Google Reader.
Is your hand up? Mine is.
Google Reader was an RSS reader that garnered a lot of popularity among those who wanted to curate the news that they read online.
However, in July 2013, it was unceremoniously sent to the Google Graveyard where it now lies dormant alongside Google+, Google Currents, and countless other apps.
Many people thought that RSS died when Google Reader died, but that’s not true. RSS is alive and well. In fact, it may be the only antidote to one of the biggest technology problems that dominates our lives; the algorithm.
The Problem With the Algorithm
If you’re like most people, you probably get the majority of your online news and information from social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram.
These platforms use algorithms to decide what content to show you, based on your preferences, behavior, and the network of people you follow online. While this may seem convenient and personalized, it also comes with some serious drawbacks.
One of the biggest issues with relying on social media algorithms is that they create echo chambers and filter bubbles.
This means that you only see content that confirms your existing beliefs and opinions. You miss out on different perspectives and viewpoints that could challenge or enrich your understanding of the world. This can lead to polarization, misinformation, and intolerance.
Another concern with social media algorithms is that they prioritize engagement over quality. They favor content that provokes strong emotions, such as anger or fear, over content that is informative or educational. This can lead to sensationalism, clickbait, and fake news.
How to Escape the Algorithm
I’m tired of the algorithm. It might think it knows me better than I know myself, but it doesn’t. It’s just a mathematical set of rules and signals that are designed to appeal to the lowest common denominator.
I’m tired of companies collecting personal data from my online habits and using that to sell me ads, news stories I never asked for, and internet personalities I don’t have any interest in following.
Instead, I’m opting out of the algorithm. RSS can help with that.
RSS stands for Really Simple Syndication or Rich Site Summary. It’s a technology that allows you to subscribe to websites and blogs that you’re interested in and receive updates whenever they publish new content.
You can use an RSS reader app or website to access all your RSS feeds in one place. But, the main advantage of using RSS feeds is that you can choose what sources and topics you want to follow without relying on any algorithm.
You can curate your own personalized news feed based on your interests and preferences. You can also discover new sources and topics by browsing through RSS directories or recommendations.
Another advantage of using RSS feeds is that you can access the original content without any distractions or interruptions. You don’t have to deal with ads, pop-ups, comments, or other elements that clutter up most websites nowadays. You can also read offline if you download the content beforehand.
RSS may seem old-fashioned compared to today’s social media platforms, but it’s still very much alive and kicking in 2023. In fact, many people are rediscovering its benefits as a way to counteract the negative effects of online algorithms.
If you’re looking for a more diverse, balanced, and independent online information diet, then RSS might be just what you need.
RSS Apps You Need to Know About
If you want to try an RSS reader, Feedly is a great place to start. It’s one of the most popular RSS apps, and it comes with a web interface and mobile apps for Android and iOS.
Feedly allows you to organize your feeds into collections, discover new content, and share articles with others. The free plan allows you to follow up to 100 feeds and organize them into 3 folders. For more feeds and more features, you can explore one of the paid plans.
Reeder is another RSS app that I like a lot. It’s available for Mac and iOS devices, and it integrates with popular services like Feedly, Inoreader, NewsBlur to deliver you the feeds that you have subscribed to, or you can use the built-in search to add your own.
Like Feedly, it is a privacy-focused app that doesn’t collect or sell any of your personal data. It also comes with interesting features like the Bionic Reader view, and a share extension to add links from outside of Reeder to read later.
A couple of other noteworthy apps include Inoreader, a powerful RSS reader that can also handle email newsletters, social media pages, and podcasts. Newsblur is another appealing option and is available for iOS, Android, and the web.
So, if you want to take more control over your news feed, give RSS a second chance. It’s undoubtedly the best way to avoid the pitfalls of algorithmic curation. Subscribe to the sources you trust and filter out the noise you don’t want. Your news. Your way. Enough said.
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