The Sovereign Feed

This post was published 2023/01/02 & last updated 2023/07/26

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RSS is Dead, Long Live RSS.

The internet has changed a lot since the late 1990s. Social media platforms have risen to prominence, offering a more controlled and centralized way of distributing information.

Really Simple Syndication (RSS) is a feed format that has been around since 1999. It allows users to access and disseminate information using a standardized format. Anyone can set up an RSS feed, and anyone can subscribe to one. It is the most popular method for digital syndication.

Early on, social media platforms were happy to offer RSS feeds to their users. Facebook and Twitter offered feeds, allowing users to consume content from disparate accounts in an RSS reader. But as these platforms grew, so did their desire to capture as much user data as possible. This meant that users were limited to using only the platform’s feed, and RSS was set aside.

RSS still has a place in the world, however. It is used by podcast distribution services, read-later tools, and even some browsers with native support. But the real power of RSS lies in its ability to let users have control over their content.

The rise of social media has been driven by the collection of data. What are users reading? What language do they use? What interests do they have? This data is valuable, and social media exists to monetize it.

RSS, however, enables users to create their own Sovereign Feed – their own content, their own terms. They can spread their voice free of algorithms, advertisements, and predatory social platforms.

The idea of a Sovereign Feed has reemerged in recent years, and developers are now working hard to create tools to enable users to take control of their content.

Technologies like Arweave and IPFS have been developed to offer long-term decentralized storage, and blogging platforms like Mirror and Paragraph — as well as social feeds like Lens and Farcaster — all offer some novel sufficiently decentralized functionality. But this promise of decentralization ignores what came before.

RSS has been here the whole time, in the hands of the users who embrace it. It’s time to take back control of our content, and embrace the Sovereign Feed. RSS is dead, long live RSS.

RSS is currently broken while I fix some things.

~~This site has an RSS, Atom, and JSON feed. You can find them at these URLS: