Back

RSS is calm

October 2020

I’ve been thinking a bit about how I consume from the web, to improve my digital health. Here’s some things I’ve done recently:

  • Delete all work stuff from my phone (Slack, Email etc).

  • Clean up my social follows, and use Twitterrific ‘muffles’ more.

  • Use Drafts to record ideas and reminders quickly to avoid context switching and distractions.

  • Got back into RSS, subscribing to blogs and sites that I like, but lost track of.

  • Move all my email newsletter subscriptions to Feedbin.

Those last two have been very helpful. RSS has been around forever, it’s usually used for things like blog posts, but it also powers podcasting (another of my favourite internet ecosystems). Laura Kalbag has plenty of advice for getting started, so does Matt Webb.

For me, RSS is a great way to control what I consume, I can curate a feed of things I genuinely enjoy reading. There’s no pressure to read things immediately, no comments, no trackers or ads—nobody controls RSS. Most importantly good a RSS reader will format all the content into a minimal, consistent format, it’s all very calm…

I find RSS especially useful for following high-quality content creators that rarely post, something that’s difficult to keep track of otherwise. I tend not to subscribe to creators that post many times in a single day, as it clutters my feed quickly, which is overwhelming. I work around that by subscribing to email newsletters via RSS, good daily content creators will offer a weekly newsletter that offers a summary rather than a deluge. Feedbin allows you to signup using a special email address, which is a great feature.

When I stumble on a good article I try and find out if the creator has an RSS feed, so that I read more of their work in future—lack of discovery is both a positive and negative part of RSS—it's also disappointing to find a content creator doesn't offer a feed at all. After that you can forget about everything until that content creator posts again. The same goes for an interesting looking email newsletter.

So now I find myself browsing less, and I get fewer emails, but I'm not missing out, my favourite content is ready for me to read whenever I feel like it. It's a nice activity for a quick Coffee break.

I subscribe to Feedbin for $5 a month, and I read it using NetNewsWire, a lightweight, open-source app for Mac and iOS.

You can see a list of the content creators I subscribe to on the /feeds page, it pulls data directly from the Feedbin API, so it will always be up-to-date.