about content feeds

This is literally a ramble. This is the lowest stakes content I have published so far in this website. I am putting this out there so it’s out there instead of “in my head”.

Once, a lifetime ago, we had Google News. That’s the last time I used RSS with any sort of consistency.

I followed a ton of universities and niche news outlets, and read through dozens of publications every single day.

I’d pick some interesting topic or another and write a little bit about them, mostly so a few people at my college could access the weird nuggets I found.

I never did learn to subscribe to RSS any other way after Google News was shut down. Maybe I should — it’s fun to sit down to discover new stuff without being bombarded by potentially side-tracking stimuli.

RSS was the last time I had a fully self-directed content feed.

I have to wonder (otherwise I’d be kicked out of the Guild) whether the demise of Google News had anything to do with someone, somewhere, wanting to limit people’s capacity to have a perfectly curated, non-hijackable connection to writers.

Feeds today? Mastodon, X, Instagram, Facebook, TikTok… even search is hijacked by gaming the search algorithms — or, simply, ads.

People today get subscribed to newsletters to get a similar effect to a curated content feed, I guess. I get a few of those every so often.

Were I to go back to the RSS days I’d have to contend with the fact that getting links to RSS feeds feels harder today than it used to be, and there is no more Google News — which allowed you to _search_ and _subscribe_.

Thankfully, WordPress (which powers a significant amount of internet traffic) automagically generates an RSS feed at example.com/feed/; a quick poke showed me emacs (the ancient, extensible, self-documenting, fun to use text editor + elisp runtime I like to use for organization, chatting, and other things “text”) handles RSS feeds well and has for aeons.

If I had tools to “manage” an RSS feed close to me [and did not notice], maybe I can rebuild it with a [smaller than I thought] bit of effort.

I wonder (the Guild compels me!): how many more things we routinely give up on just because the tiniest bit of inconvenience shows up.