Note: Aaron worked on the RSS specification and collaborated with Lisa Rein to implement an RSS-based format for expressing Creative Commons licenses (that is still currently in use today).
Update April 3, 2018 – MacStories weighs in on the RSS Revival.
Update April 2, 2018 – Eric Barnes has explained a nice configuration that he uses for RSS.
Update March 30, 2018 – Wired publishes article: It’s Time For An RSS Revival, by Brian Barrett, which gives us the survey of current RSS tools that we requested :-)
Update Nov 7, 2017: Thanks to Dave Winer for contributing tools to this page:
River5 RSS Reader
River as an adjunct to Dave’s Blot: http://scripting.com/river.html
It’s open source, MIT Licensed. Easy to install.
There’s also an Electron version you can install on your Mac.
Project Lead: Lisa Rein – firstname.lastname@example.org
We now realize that centralized news is “bad” for all sorts of reasons. Many of us have let Google News and Facebook become our primary news filters, which was stupid and naive and lazy of us, but I think I can safely say we are now paying the price.
But what’s done is done. Time to fix it now. Let’s revive RSS and dig up all the old news readers. The news outlets still use it, and they will use it more, if we demand it of them.
Why the need for this?
Google News has continued to alter its interface, taking away more and more options, until it has finally become virtually unusable. It’s current incarnation is like some kind of clunky pseudo-1984 newspeak implementation, as Google news has not only stopped adding features, it has literally began taking them away.
At first these changes were subtle, making us have to look for important features, such as date parameters. Now, it has removed Advanced Search entirely from its news interface.
Taking away advanced search chisels away at our ability to poke at the truth, and find out what we want, when we want.
To remedy this, we need to go back to RSS. Remember the good old days?
RSS feed readers used to be available on all platforms and devices.
It was great. Everyone had their own readers set up with their favorite news feeds, coming direct from the sources. Whether mainstream (New York Times, Washington Post) or independent (Truthout) or just bloggers, many of whom we have learned to trust far more than the mainstream outlets (Dave Winer, BoingBoing).
We need this open source RSS news reader to go around all the corporate filters, so that we can get our news direct from the news organizations.
Feed directories provided a library of RSS feeds to choose from. Let’s go back to the way things were. I for one am willing to help do some of the work to get us back there. We’ll encourage the mainstream media outlets to update and implement their RSS again. Most of them still have it running, although the feeds are not used that often by many people any more.
We will crowdsource the truth! Let’s take back the news people.
Here’s how we can get started this weekend:
1. Survey of all existing tools and directories.
2. Determine which apps run on which devices. Is there already a good reader that only needs to be ported to current mobile platforms?
3. Pick back up development – let’s make a bunch of good tools
4. Collect together all of the feeds into a super cool directors, and categorize them based on crowdsourced ratings.
RSS combined with social media would be also pretty sweet; we just never gave it a chance. Time to rethink our dependence on centralized news and take back control of our information sources.