Robin Rendle on RSS

Robin Rendle has a nice piece on RSS, reading, and writing on the web1. Robin covers some of the ways RSS helped writers find community, and writes about the current state of the RSS ecosystem. He also writes about the benefits to publishing on your own site instead of a platform:

Folks now seem to recognize the value of having your own little plot of land on the web and, although it’s still pretty complex to make your own website and control all that content, it’s worth it in the long run. No one can run ads against your thing. No one can mess with the styles. No one can censor or sunset your writing.

That brought to mind a short blog post from a few years ago by Frank Chimero, “Homesteading”. The original is no longer linked on his site, but Internet Archive has a snapshot. Frank writes:

I’m returning to a personal site, which flips everything on its head. Rather than teasing things apart into silos, I can fuse together different kinds of content. Instead of having fewer sections to attend to distracted and busy individuals, I’ll add more (and hopefully introduce some friction, complexity, and depth) to reward those who want to invest their time. I won’t use analytics—actually, I won’t measure at all. What would I do with that data anyway? In this case, it’s just more noise. The singular thread that runs through everything is only “because I like it.”

I’ve found it useful to have a little of both as part of my daily reading: it’s nice to interact with folks on-the-fly via Twitter, but that’s a different mode than the leisurely exploration of a personal site that feels akin to browsing someone’s bookshelf and sensing the history behind each item. My own RSS habits took a dip a few years ago as my Twitter use peaked, but lately I find myself drawn more and more to RSS, a quieter space that seems to give a better return for my time.

  1. It seems wholly appropriate that I ended up reading Robin’s post because of RSS — I had missed it in the Twitter stream, but I subscribe to Susan J. Robertson’s RSS feed, and she linked to it a few days ago. (I realized that I only followed Robin on Twitter, not via RSS. That’s all fixed now.)