Pixel Envy

Written by Nick Heer.

Re-Emphasizing the Decentralized Feed

Luc Lewitanski has a pretty good theory on why Google killed Reader five years ago Sunday:

@Google killed its Reader in 2013 because RSS as a format gives readers agency, doesn’t track browsing to sell ads, and lets the user chose what they want to read. As opposed to algorithmic personalisation which siloes [sic] us into increasingly homogenous demographics for advertisers

Aral Balkan:

Time was, you couldn’t browse the web without seeing RSS icons of all persuasions gracing the façades of Web 1.0’s finest. This was before they were mercilessly devoured by the tracking devices … ahem … “social sharing buttons” of people farmers like Google and Facebook.


[…] You can start making RSS more visible again today by finding the URL for your own RSS feed and exposing it visibly on your site.

It’s not complicated: just a link in the head of your page and a link in the body with an RSS icon and Bob’s your decentralised Uncle.

Badges, buttons, and links to RSS feeds used to be all over the web; now, they’re almost like a nerd calling card — it’s an indication that a website is cool with an audience reading new material on their terms. I’d like to think there’s a certain confidence in a website indicating to its readers that it doesn’t need a precise count of how many people visited the website, nor does it need all the tracking and surveillance nonsense that comes with that.

RSS and JSON Feed are both terrific formats for reading — not just on the web, but reading generally. They work with a lot of different client applications that can be set up to your liking, and you can subscribe to as many or as few websites as you like. You can be a completionist with your subscriptions, or you can let new posts flow by and only focus on a handful. You can even have a combination of the two, using something like Lire and its excellent Discover section — you can see that, even with an obnoxious amount of unread items overall, it’s possible to prioritize what to look at first. Best of all, you are in control of RSS and JSON Feeds, not a mysterious algorithm that you don’t fully understand.