Enjoying Open Source Software

Why RSS is important


RSS (RDF Site Summary or Really Simple Syndication) is a webfeed which allows users to access updates to websites in a computer readable format.

It is mostly used for websites that have frequent updates or new material, like blog entries and news messages.

You use a so called RSS reader (also called "feed reader" or "news aggregator" to pull in all the updates of the feeds of your interest and read the new content.

You subscribe to a feed, which means that you add the URL of the RSS file of a website to the collection of feeds in your RSS reader. When you start a reading session, the RSS reader collects the updates and show them to you in an easy to digest form.

RSS is used as a household name for both Atom feeds and RSS feeds, which are two different formats that both provide a feed of updates. Almost all RSS readers can handle both formats.

Newsboat is a great open source RSS reader for open source operating systems such as FreeBSD, NetBSD, OpenBSD and Linux.

Elfeed is a RSS reader that runs in Emacs.

There are many more RSS readers, for all kinds of operating systems available.

The need for RSS

What you read affects your thinking, so choose carefully

Many people open web pages from links that are distributed by social media, like Twitter and Facebook. This means that commercial powers choose the information that gets to them. We have seen in the last few years that this leads to misinformation and manipulation.

Links to smaller, independent websites almost never make it through the algorithms that govern the timelines of the users.

The users of social media drown in a continuous, never ending river of messages.

When using a RSS reader, you only get updates from the websites you have subscribed to. So you are not only in control of the amount of updates you get and also in control of what kind of information you collect.

Just like there are a few social media moguls the choice for web search engines is very limited. There also are dark algorithms at work, that control which sites are 'found' and which are not. These algorithms are completely out of our control and we have no idea of the powers behind it.

The user in control

So, when switching from social media to RSS feeds for your daily digestion of information from the internet, you free yourself from the misinformation and manipulation of social media, and get in control of the amount of information you want to digest and in control of the information sources.

The Open Web

The internet was a great innovation that gave everybody a place to be heard and a place to get all kinds of information.

It is still possible to set up personal websites and other small independent websites and make yourself heard.

It is still possible to choose carefully what information you consume.

But for this you have to take initiative. The big powers like the social media moguls and the large publishers won't steer you in this direction.

Therefor you should install a RSS reader. Just choose any RSS reader. Try to find the smaller independent websites that fits your interest and subscribe to their feeds.

This is the only way to keep the web open and actually keep accessing these kind of websites.

Take back control with RSS!


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