For a millennial like me, RSS feeds are the point where the internet began to feel like a genuinely new method of delivering content and information. My first experience with RSS was through early podcasts, although many of them were either too short or not particularly listenable and I lost interest.
My interest piqued a few years ago when I began my journey into learning about good privacy practices online. RSS feeds for news sites are a great way to pull in information without necessarily leaving a digital footprint to track. Obviously this isn’t always the case, but the idea of centralising my online reading seemed like a great idea.
Additionally, I was getting a bit concerned with services like Reddit and Youtube - both of these aggregate news and new content. The idea, however, that my reading and viewing preferences were being harvested by these companies and added to my profile was troubling. It was great to learn that both of these services are accessible by RSS feed with a bit of fiddling. Given the attempts to influence people on both of these platforms, I like the idea that I can easily see all articles published by an organisation, rather than primarily those pushed to the Front Page of reddit and its various subreddits. I also like that I can follow Youtubers without logging into Youtubers without any kind of account, although this was a bit more tricky to achieve. That said, a quick web search will provide lots of guides on how to achieve this.
This post was, in part, inspired by the Privacy, Security and OSINT show on RSS feeds found here. I thought the show gave a really great outline of the different things that could be achieved with the technology and the benefits of it. I recommend people to give it a listen.
Personally I am using TT-RSS currently with the Feed Iron plugin. I then read the feeds using Reeder for Mac and iOS. The experience is pretty ok, although I would prefer some small tweaks with regards to pulling in different articles. I currently have about 100 feeds and I’m making an effort to add more as I see them being posted on various news aggregators to effectively host my own aggregation service.
That said, one of the projects I had outlined for myself this year was to move away from TT-RSS as the developer does come across in a way that puts me off the project.
I’ll be giving a few options a spin over the Summer and note what works well. I have high hopes for Miniflux.