State of the RSS Address

I am a big fan of RSS. It powers the many podcasts I listen to on a weekly basis and continues to be one of the primary distribution protocols of the open web. In fact I would directly attribute the decline of my blog writing output in the early 2000s to an increase in reading consumption powered by the venerable Mac RSS reader, NetNewsWire. Looking back at my archives there's a noticeable dip in posts when it first debuted in the summer of 2002. At the end of 2005, Google Reader debuted and its ability to present all my subscriptions in a web interface to any computer I happened to be using only further amplified my ability to consume blogs and news sources. As I look back on my archive it's kind of shocking to see how little I posted to my blog after 2006, but it's not entirely surprising given the additional arrival of Twitter in 2007 as a further drain on my time, attention, and writing time.

Google killed Reader in 2013 and while numerous free and freemium replacements like Feedly, Feedbin, and the Old Reader stepped into fill the gaps it has never quite been the same for me. The rise of iOS and an inability on my part to settle on one particular RSS service or app has had me consuming news and blogs in a not particular efficient or regular fashion. And Twitter continues to be a rival information source that I feel like I depend on too much. But as I've mentioned, at least for me personally, consuming too much information can have a negative impact on my ability to produce new and interesting things.

Jumping forward to 2020 my desire to write and create more has increased once again1 and two decades worth of experience with the web has taught me the importance of having full control over my content and how I share it. Breaking away from dependence on silos like Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram2 is important to me and RSS is absolutely essential to promoting the open web in this regard. I think Manton Reece is doing some interesting stuff with his service and his advocacy for silo free microblogging.3

Meanwhile NetNewsWire is now an open source Mac application as of version 5, with an iOS version in beta on Test Flight as well. I have yet to play with the latter, but the former is a very solid and efficient Mac app. The only problem for me is that the Mac app requires Mojave or higher4 and it doesn't provide syncing support with any services I use currently. So I've used NetNewsWire from time to time on a few different computers, but I haven't begun using the app regularly or consistently. Perhaps in the end that will allow me to establish some good daily writing habits on my blog while I wait for the syncing I'd need to fully adopt NetNewsWire again.

  1. Helped to some extant by a little more personal discipline on my part and RSS tools that don't sync well at the moment.

  2. The one social network I remain a fan of because of its general positive vibe, but I refuse to rely on it solely for my photos and duplicate everything I put there on my own blog as well.

  3. Ironically creating an alternative to RSS called json feed that eschews xml for the lighter weight data serialization json provides.

  4. Soon to be Catalina in fact which I find understandable, but distasteful as an ancient Mac Pro running El Cap desktop user.