RSS stands for Really Simple Syndication (or Rich Site Summary) and it was first stitched into the tapestry of the open web around the turn of the millennium. Its aim is straightforward: to make it easy to track updates to the content of a given website in a standardized format.
In practice, and for your purposes, that means it can give you a comprehensive, regularly updated look at all of the content your favorite sites publish throughout the day. Think of it as the ultimate aggregator; every morsel from every source you care about, fed directly to you. Or, more commonly, fed to you through an intermediary known as an RSS feed reader, software that helps you wrangle all of those disparate headlines into something remotely manageable.
Persistence of an open protocol:
“I can’t really explain it, I would have thought given all the abuse it’s taken over the years that it would be stumbling a lot worse,” says programmer Dave Winer, who helped create RSS.
It owes that resilience in part thanks to social media burnout. Stankov says search traffic to Inoreader has nearly doubled since 2015, all organically. “RSS readers have not only survived in the era of social media, but are driving more and more attention back to themselves, as people are realizing the pitfalls” of relying too much on Facebook and others, Stankov says.
Still, the lasting appeal of RSS remains the parts that haven’t changed: the unfiltered view of the open web, and the chance to make your own decisions about what you find there.
“The most amazing thing to me about RSS is that no one really went away from it,” says Wolf. “It still exists. Somehow through all of this. It’s crazy, in a way, that when you go away from RSS and then come back to it, it’s all still there.”
I have been writing about Social Media vs RSS for a while now; this feature on Wired made me really happy! I shared this article with everyone I discussed RSS with before.
Among the RSS clients mentioned in the article, I have used Feedly for many years now (and somehow the 100 feeds limit doesn’t apply to my (free) account, yet); I have tried Inoreader for a bit and can certainly recommend it as a good alternative to Feedly.
Perhaps I will not need to write that How To anymore.