So what crushed the promise of RSS and its designed-in accessibility to everyone — otherwise known as “open standard”? And how can we revive that version of RSS in an era when the big platforms are flexing their might by showing us they can strip news content for an entire nation if its government makes a law they don’t like?
As I’ve said over and over again, RSS never went anywhere, and I would be serious money that you can follow more sites via RSS today than you ever could in the “heyday” of RSS.
Everyone else, let’s start with why, these days, (much because of tech giants) RSS is mostly RIP. The short answer is that Google, Apple and Facebook each initially embraced RSS in order to quickly grow their user bases. But they tuned RSS to their own needs, and once once they captured audiences with their polished aggregators, they each pushed RSS creators and users towards their own proprietary versions of the tool. Over time, that pushed the original RSS technology out of fashion.
Again, RSS is not RIP, and basically all of the publishers you are reading on Apple, Google, and Facebook platforms also have websites that have RSS feeds. Tons of power users (aka most of Google Reader’s users) still use RSS and tons of automations around the web are built on RSS feeds.
As always with posts like this, I don’t deny that some number of people stopped using RSS over the past couple decades, of course they did. What drives me crazy is that RSS was not killed, and in fact it’s continued to thrive and be one of the most ubiquitous pieces of the modern internet.
And don’t worry, if you thought RSS was dead and want to jump back in today, there are dozens of very healthy businesses who build RSS sync services and readers so you can take your pick of the many options out there today 😝
Inoreader + Reeder is my pairing of choice, for what it’s worth.