Greg Morris

Designer, Pretend Photographer, Dad

Back To Regular Old RSS

Like Cobra Kai, the life cycle of talking about Really Simple Syndication feeds never dies. Since reaching 2.0 thanks to the development group that included Aaron Swartz, RSS has become one of the backbones of the internet. Web silos can try all they like to shut it down and control everything, but it continues to deliver everything from your favourite podcasts to the best websites directly to your proverbial door.

Despite being a massive proponent of RSS, I have been fighting with it for a while. Using other services seemingly built on top of it to suite me better, but nothing beats simply subscribing to your favourite feeds in a simple app of your choice. I am back to doing exactly that because of issues, bugs and perhaps web silos – I simply can’t find anything better.

Listen. Matter has given it a good go and I thoroughly enjoy using it. So much so that I paid for a Patron subscription, including three years of access and priority support. Building several shortcuts and reading workflows to share highlights to my blog and annotate interesting articles. Since before their own 2.0 version, I’ve been using it to subscribe to much of the web through RSS and delivering newsletters to it. However, it just doesn’t cut it any more.

See the screenshots above, I am subscribed to Matt Birchler’s blog feed in both Matter and Reeder 5. These should be the same, yet there’s a stark difference with what is available for me to read. Despite flagging feeds all the time because I know there are posts missing, nothing ever changes. I realise that Matter does numerous fancy things by parsing all the web content etc, but this is more of a realisation that regular old RSS is best.

In a search to find a replacement, I went on a tour of all the services I could find or came recommended. Many built on top of RSS. Some offered seemingly extortionate ‘Pro’ subscriptions for finding new RSS feeds for you (yet only sticking to well-known websites). Even more of them offered me some kind of assistant to summarise the articles for me. Among all the investigation, I discovered something different – like my note-taking, the simplest path is the best.

If you want to build some fancy second brain and map your thoughts, or write notes until your fingers are numb, there’s a service out there for you. Yet, the two decade old idea of just subscribing to the RSS feed is often the way to go.

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