[Curator’s note] Published in german by Süddeutsche Zeitung

  • RSS is a file format that allows users to subscribe to blog entries or new articles from news sites.
  • Few people know and use RSS.
  • The technology allows users to independently determine their message consumption, while Facebook algorithms sort contents.

I wrote my last love letter in sixth grade. When I finished, I read it three times and then tore it to pieces. Now I’m trying again with a love letter – with two key differences: my worship is a technology, and the addressees are my readers.

Three letters have done to me: RSS. They stand for Really Simple Syndication or Rich Site Summary. Almost all major websites offer so-called RSS feeds, which can be subscribed to with RSS readers. As soon as the content of the page changes, this creates an entry in the feed. If, for example, a new article appears on SZ.de, it also appears in the RSS structure.

That sounds banal, but I can not imagine a life without RSS. This is also due to my job: As a journalist, I have to keep an eye on many sources and process information as efficiently as possible. For this RSS feeds are irreplaceable. But whether you are a media person, a doctor or a hairdresser – everyone who is interested in news, regularly visits online media or reads blogs saves with RSS clicks and is better informed.

The technology is niche and nerdig, but it is quite simple. You only need two things: a website that supports RSS, and a reader where you collect and read the feeds. In the picture gallery at the end of the article, I briefly explain how to find RSS feeds and give an overview of recommended RSS readers. If you want to track the news from SZ.de, Zeit Online and Spiegel Online, you no longer have to go to each page to see if there’s anything new. Instead, you receive the texts bundled in your RSS reader. It is also possible to subscribe to individual departments or authors.

RSS comes from the past millennium, so it is a dinosaur of the Internet. Time and again, the format predicts the fate of these animals: extinction from circumstances that are not finally clarified. The role of the alleged meteorite takes over a popular villain, who allegedly already Myspace, journalism and the democratic discourse on the conscience has: Facebook.

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