Feeds are not the most popular thing on the internet to talk about at the moment. It’s been a few years since RSS was the way to stay up to date of news. After being launched in 1999 feeds have been a major way to keep track of your favorite websites. Over the years it got slowly replaced by mainstream social media like Facebook and Reddit, or more niche ones like Hacker News. In 2013 Google Reader, one of the most popular readers online, closed down. This marked quite a sad point in the history of RSS.
Social media offer a way to follow many news sources and a way to filter said news sources based on how popular (thus “important”) their articles are. Advertisers get to offer you even more similar targeted content, which you are likely to click. This sounds like a great way to narrow down your news intake. Still.. this also causes a lot of information to slip the net. This concept is called a “Filter Bubble”. Not a recent phenomenon, this Ted talk from 2011 already explains the concept and its dangers. In more recent times there has been renewed attention to the concept and the way it affects important elections around the world.
To me, it really is a shame that many websites are moving away from offering an RSS feed. Be it for advertising reasons (some websites decided to stop offering a feed as it was used to circumvent advertising) or because it is deemed obsolete. Feeds give me the change to load a lot of specific information into a platform without ‘losing’ it in the personalized feeds social media use. Updates on a specific piece of technology from a couple of fairly unknown blogs? Got it covered. When is my favorite artist coming to play in my city? Shows up automatically. Global news that I’m interested in? Already have it.
To sum it up, RSS is still a viable source for news. And it would be great if more people see its value. It gives you back control over what you read, and when. No more lost posts in your Facebook feed because you didn’t have time to read it. Less chance to lose the small posts of people you follow because their social footprint gets overshadowed by big websites.