Illustration : Flux RSS

Before Twitter, before algorithmic timelines filtered our reality for us, before surveillance capitalism, there was RSS: Really Simple Syndication.

RS-what now?

For those of you born into the siloed world of the centralised web, RSS is an ancient technology from Web 1.0 (“the naïve Web?”). Like most things back then, it does what it says on the tin: it enables you to easily syndicate the content of your site. People interested in following your posts subscribe to your feed and receive updates using their RSS readers. There is no Twitter or Facebook in the middle to algorithmically censor … ahem … “curate” your posts.

RSS is stupidly simple to implement (it’s just an XML file). You could hand-roll it manually if you wanted to (although I wouldn’t recommend it).

Here’s an excerpt of this site’s RSS feed, showing some of the fields of the current entry for this post:

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="utf-8" standalone="yes" ?>
<rss version="2.0" xmlns:atom="http://www.w3.org/2005/Atom"> <channel> <title>Aral Balkan</title> <link>https://ar.al/</link> <description>Recent content on Aral Balkan</description> <lastBuildDate>Fri, 29 Jun 2018 11:33:13 +0100</lastBuildDate><item> <title>Rediscovering RSS</title> <link>https://ar.al/2018/06/29/rediscovering-rss/</link> <pubDate>Fri, 29 Jun 2018 11:33:13 +0100</pubDate> <author>mail@ar.al (Aral Balkan)</author> <description>(The content of this post goes here.)</description> </item></channel>
</rss>

It is also almost universally implemented.

Chances are, if you have a web site, you already have an RSS feed whether you know it or not. If you use Hugo to generate your site, for example (like I do), your RSS feed is at /index.xml.

Other generators might put it at /rss, /feed, /feed.xml, etc.

A selection of RSS icons from The Noun Project displayed in a grid.
The Noun Project has a great selection of RSS icons you can use.

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