At WordCamp Atlanta a few weeks ago, I got into a discussion with some other folks about RSS, and was surprised that many weren’t familiar with it. It can be very valuable, so let’s explore that a bit.
Check out Feedly to try it for yourself:
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If you’re not familiar with RSS, which stands for “Really Simple Syndication”, it’s essentially a feed of the content from a website. If you use WordPress, you can put /feed/ at the end of your address to see the RSS feed. You can also put it at the end of a category (like yoursite.com/category/books/feed/) or tag or author and get a feed of just that content. The feed you see there is ugly, but it’s super useful for those that use them.
In my case, I use a tool called Feedly to help me collect and sort through RSS feeds. Rather than visiting various sites to see what’s new, the content comes to me. When I subscribe to a feed on another site, each new post of theirs shows up in my Feedly account. This is especially useful for sites that don’t publish on a consistent schedule; I don’t have to worry about when they post, they just come to me!
The best part is that I get every post of theirs, and this is particularly important in 2019. Most sites that you go to, like Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter, or even news sites like Apple News and Google News curate the content that you see, creating a “filter bubble”. The filter bubble is where the news you see always fits your narrative (so you’ll spend more time on those sites), but rarely do you see opposing viewpoints. I intentionally subscribe to sites that are on the other side of what I believe (whether that’s politics, religion or just content management systems) so I can have a more well-rounded view.
Beyond that, once you start looking for RSS feeds on the internet you’ll find them everywhere! I subscribe to a ton of tech news sites, but also the blogs for my kid’s teachers, the feed of sports news from our local high school, feeds for searches I want to track on Craigslist and many other things.
RSS feeds aren’t as popular as they were years ago, and likely never will be again, but they’re an amazing tool to help you stay well-informed and well-rounded, and I encourage you to use a tool like Feedly to help you utilize them.