“Before Twitter, before algorithmic timelines filtered our reality for us, before surveillance capitalism, there was RSS: Really Simple Syndication … As we move away from the centralised web to the peer web, it’s time to rediscover, re-embrace, and reclaim RSS.”
@xj @aral Right. And that FLOSS doesn't even remotely compete here anymore: People using Twitter or Facebook don't want to choose a certain software - they use a turn-key service instead that of course in some way relies on bits and bytes but has its advantage in *just* being available without any learning or administration effort. From that point of view, FLOSS that requires you to think about hosting, backup, availability, ... is just set to lose. :(
@aral Should we take on reclaiming #RSS, or should we rather try focussing on technologies such as #activitypup to replace #RSS? For what I remember, one of the total drawbacks of #RSS was that it wasn't in any way interactive whereas Twitter and related platforms allowed for comments and discussion starting with day one.
@aral I know. :) Just wondered whether, in an #activitypub world, #RSS is still required - except for being a "simpler" standard, does it provide any features that can't be done with #activitypub as well? I wonder because right now I see a lot of blogs moving away from dynamic web hostings and quite some of them end up offering #RSS for syndication - and embedding platform such as #disqus because comments.. ;)
@z428 Yeah surveillance devices like Disqus are a problem. I see RSS existing alongside. Doesn’t have to be either/or. Well suited for news.
@aral The techie in me agrees wholeheartedly. Looking at end users however (the crowd that still mostly remains on Twitter and seems quite hesitant when it comes to changing tools), I wonder whether too many alternative technical approaches at hand are a benefit or more of a hazard. #fediverse seems a viable, agreeable solution so why not fully focussing on that at least for a while? ;)
@notclacke @aral Sounds valid. Well, maybe at the heart of things, I'd like to see a *meaningful* mix of protocols providing an end-user experience as good and well-integrated as somewhat possible (Twitter and Facebook are the benchmark here) while reducing the need to make decisions between different implementations of the same "use case" to a bare minimum. There's "always more than one way to do it", but there shouldn't be too many... ;)
@z428 @aral With Disqus, Google+ and spot.im using an URL as the key for a discussion, all we need would be an RSS reader, that implements these discussion sites. And these sites allowing access to the comments from multiple accounts (e.g. if the website owner also implemented Disqus already - don't know if you could still see the conversations from a different account).
@aral Thanks for your post! I think it speaks to the best part of web culture how RSS is still around depsite the best efforts of large social media platforms to kill it.
Isn't it still good practice to put a <link> in your HTML too, to let RSS clients know where your feed is?
@aral Whao ! You exactly wrote the post I was thinking about. Do you mind if I translate (part of) it (into French) (with due credits of course :-) )
@aral I've spent a bit too much time over the past few days writing a CSS sanitiser that reads from rsstail (using my newsboat url list)andfeeds xrootconsole, the xscreensaver phosphor hack, or a terminal, with ANSI highlighting and other bits.
Very hackish awk.
We didn't rss. Publisher did.
They want stats, ads, targeted ads, private data & engagement. All this stuff required their users to move from rss to social networks.
They first put only part of the content in the RSS then completely removed it after they could push content to their user smartphones.
Websites without ads or paywall have not stop providing full RSS. Why don't do read these ?
@aral Firefox still has the RSS feed button, it's just not in the default UI.
Also some (mostly commercial) sites do deliver tracking pixels linked from their RSS feeds, which kinda defeats the idea of not being tracked...
Some still publish their feeds through FeedBurner, providing usage information for the Google surveillance machine. Fat RSS feeds do create quite a bit of traffic on popular sites, as each client reloads the full file on each access... No real incremental updates...
@aral Great post! Although Firefox allows you to extract the rss link from any page which has it. On newer FFs, just click on Hamburger menu -> Customize and pull the "Subscribe" button to the toolbar.
@aral Feels ironic you posted this right after I took my first steps in supporting RSS in Odysseus.
Good irony though.
@aral I use RSS for years with Firefox and do search blogs for it. It is so easy to read the stuff I want.
@aral have you considered using a clearer term than "RSS"? For me, I know when you say "RSS" you're really talking about a group of related syndication technologies that include Atom, but I wonder if others reading this without the historical context might come to the mistaken conclusion that deploying more non-Atom feed setups is a good idea.
@aral The things that are happening now like ActivityPub, DAT etc reminds me of the semantic web days with PubSubHubbub, Microformats, Atom/RSS, FOAF(+SSL) etc but with newer technologies. Seems that the silo monopoly that replaced the semantic web is being demolished. Interesting times!
@aral RSS is solid.
Rediscovering RSS is like when people are done falling over each other to build Slack integration for everything and someone is going to mention that everything could have hooked into XMPP just fine
@mjjzf @aral That's a good point actually: It could have been done for XMPP. But it unfortunately hasn't. Same about the desktop UI or the usability for, say, ad hoc group chats or sharing and finding inline media. A load about Slack is about trivial, obvious usability stuff. It all could have done with XMPP too, but Slack *did* it. And so a load of people use Slack (where a load of these features are just there) rather than XMPP (where a load of these features *could* be there). :(
@aral very nice read.
And I couldn’t agree more on the full fat RSS thing. I use RSS to read your content in a convenient and lean way, I simply unsubscribe from summary only feeds.
@aral I was an RSS junkie and I saw the writing on the wall when I noticed sites trying to find ways to monetize their feeds. Yuck.
@aral algorithmic timelines are terrible. I can understand and algorithm which puts ad into my timeline, but not new timeline each time I refresh the page. I think, it is done to engage user to click more, but jiz, it is so creepy.
@aral i’ve never abandoned RSS. In fact, it is still my number one infosource (if i found something new to follow i just add its feed to my reader). I like to “curate” ( =choose:) myself what i read and i like to get the content from their source. rss lives! :)
@aral ... and, looking at my blog roll, a load of people who used weblogs and RSS in the early 2000s gradually moved to Twitter because it provided something weblogs, pingbacks, RSS and comments never managed to provide: An easy way of publishing content, same as an easy way of interacting with users (as in discussions and comments). We should not re-embrace or reclaim RSS. We rather should look at why quite some people gave up on these technologies in order to improve them... 😉
@mike Actually I always loved AtomPub (the whole APP protocol, not just atom as a feed flavour) which unfortunately never seems to have gained ground or support in any substantial way but that's possibly another story. My problem with both, however: RSS and Atom provide access to content. APP provided access to content and to creating content. But neither of these actually integrates a "backchannel", feedback and communication just the way Twitter or the #fediverse does.
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