avatar Andrés Cárdenas (@kandr3s)

Forgetting RSS

I have never tweeted much, but for a time my Twitter timeline replaced my RSS feeds. The fall and rise of this wonderful technology owes more to the invention (rip-off) of the social media timeline than to any attempt of a big company to kill it, and today I’m just recognizing myself as partly at fault for it.

You must believe me when I say in rural Colombia of the 2000s there wasn’t such thing as an affordable and stable Internet service. An hour of Internet time in the only café there was in my village was around 3 dollars which at the time was also half a day’s work worth. I remember wanting to stay online for hours but having to choose between a meal at school or that extra torrented song to burn into my CD before my time was up.

I had good months with 2 hours of Internet and not so good ones with just half an hour. Not the most convinient, but it worked. It wasn’t until social media created the need to stay online that money became a problem.

And when I think of early social media Microsoft’s Messenger is what comes to mind. By the time I made it to high school almost none of my friends had Internet at home but everyone I knew was on Windows Live Messenger and wanted to have Internet at home.

Fortunately Microsoft had a program called Windows Live Mail, I guess you can see it as Outlook’s grandfather, and back then it had this thing called RSS Feeds. Around the same time stores started selling Internet cards that you would scratch for an user and password to connect to the Internet. You had to call the ISP to set it up and for 5 dollars you’d get around 24 hours of Internet time. But if you had just discovered what RSS feeds were that translated into a backlog of articles to read and what felt like having Internet at home. Refreshing the feeds in the background and going crazy on eMule or Ares, it worked.

As Internet became affordable and social media websites made it super easy to stay in touch with one’s interests we made it here. Today’s invasive web, and tomorrow’s polluting web (👀Web3)

I guess of all the social networks out there Twitter is the one that did it for me and who needs RSS when you have a cool Timeline? For years Twitter was all I needed to check to stay “in the loop” online.

I’ve been back on RSS Feeds for almost 2 years now and I want to reverse my mistake by moving my timeline to my feeds reader. Without RSS on Twitter that’s isn’t as easy. There are of course alternatives like Nitter and feed aggregators, but those feel clumsy? Naturally, my first thought was “it’s just another walled-garden, I’m not missing on anything” and forgot about it. A couple of months have passed and I realized I was wrong. I always got value from Twitter. I actually wrote down some reasons to use Twitter.

  • I’m reading less Philosophy, as the professors I follow only post content there.

  • Congress and Presidential elections are within 6 months and the candidates are quite active on Twitter.

  • I miss the memes.

  • With all the IndieWeb hype I have to try syndication too, right?

So I started looking for a tool out there that would allow me to turn my timeline into a single RSS feed, I couldn’t find anything that did it the way I wanted so I ended up setting up 20 feeds for 20 different Twitter accounts using rss-bridge and then connected my website to Brid.gy. Not the prettiest solution, but it worked.

I was recently invited to join the IndieWeb Chat and upon joining someone happened to mention Granary. It looked like the solution to my problems, as easy as creating a Twitter list and generating a feed from it. Problem solved! but then yarr!, my beloved RSS reader wasn’t showing the authors for tweets.

With Together and Monocle being so appealing, all this IndieWeb hype at the moment and the developer of yarr! considering it feature complete software I feel it’s time to try a microsub reader.

So, IndieWeb, what reader is the “best” for my purpose here? And does anyone know how to import an OPML file into Aperture?