Life in RSS

A human I follow on Twitter began a deluge of retweets a week or so ago, all championing a hard-revert to RSS. The key points boiled down to:

  • On Twitter, we only see short points that can’t carry context, all smushed together.
  • On Facebook, we are subject to Facebook’s algorithms on what we see and don’t see, so we’re less likely to see something thought provoking.

RSS, though, provides all the content a source produces, in context, and we become our own moderators – do I skip this article or dig into it?

In light of the Cambridge Analytica scandal, plus the well-known fact that with Facebook, I am the product, and a dash of “I feel my brain cells becoming less intelligent every moment I spend on it”, I’ve abandoned the platform. I also helped a person with their website recently who created the site just to be able to have a space for sharing for their community, a minority group. They have a thriving page on Facebook, but the platform pauses every post they try to publish to make sure it meets their community standards. I’ve never heard of any other Facebook page having to wait for their content to be censored, and I’m not supporting this corporation’s profits anymore. (You heard that right. I haven’t been on Instagram either.)

For Twitter, I actually do love some of the discussions I find there. My feed is full of activists. They have challenged my point of view and made me a better person. I also get really sad when I log into Twitter for the same reasons – activism is grueling work (thank you to those who do it) that shows the bad-ness we accept as normal. It’s not something I should ignore, but it has greatest impact in intentional doses. I’ve just set 2 factor authentication up, so I can access it, but I have to know where my phone is to do so. This blocker means, when I go into Twitter, I’m ready to be there.


Onto RSS: Which one do I use?

Of course, an easy one is the Reader. I work on the platform every day, though, and I want my RSS feed to be one where I’m purely a consumer to delight in someone else’s craft.

I tested with first, mostly because I used Feedly when I worked in marketing and didn’t want to remember that world.

After two days of, it became apparent that while the functionality was perfect, the interface is heavy with lots of black lines. Looking at it got in the way of the content.

SO, I did move to and am super happy with it. Clean, elegant, lots of white space, and cool animation for pulling out sidebars and articles. It also does better with the thumbnail images of the articles than Feedreader did.


I use the free plan, so I segment my content into 3 categories: Culture, Science, News (they don’t truly accurately reflect the sources, but it does the job).


Digital Pedagogy – Discussions on education and the conversations with / leveraging of digital tools in higher education.

Hybrid Pedagogy – read a fantastic article yesterday about how our drag-and-drop design interfaces closely reflect our education system, and learning to create with HTML and CSS is both a struggle but shows the unlimited possibilities we have when we choose to become creators.

Code My UI – I helped this person with their website, and their HTML/CSS only Carousel gave me so much joy, I’m following their updates now too. The egg-toggle button is also a gem.

But wait! Shouldn’t Code My UI be in a science / tech category?

On my own feed, I don’t think Science and Tech are related at all, and I get to be the creator here 💪 What’s not cultural about cool code designs?

Open Culture – I never stop and read their content when I see them post on Twitter, but I’m now social-media-less and have time. It took me to this fantastic medicinal plant map of the United States.


Here, I keep it simple and small. If something is big and urgent happens, I will find out about it regardless of the sources I follow. In fact, I learned about the California Earthquake directly from someone who was in it. As much as that’s a bad thing to have happened, I found it incredibly refreshing to learn about it from a human who experienced it. The reality is, the news feed is full of bad things all day. The humanization is something we miss.

Tressie McMillan Cottom’s blog – Her posts offer discourse surrounding Higher Education, racism in America, feminism…I have a hard time giving a summary here. It’s one human being’s blog that isn’t bound to a corporate editor, and Tressie’s insight on the American climate is a must-read.

The Guardian, World – The US has a lot of drama right now, and I don’t need to know every micro-progression in the Mueller probe. If the US produces big-enough news, it’ll make it into this feed. I just want the top scan of things happening on the planet without the minutia.

The Guardian, Science – Notice it doesn’t fall into the science category. This is a feed of news about new things happening in Science, without analysis. Just keeping a quick pulse on progressions.

The Conversation –  I like their discussions that span decades of decisions and analyzing something more than a moment in time. Yesterday, I read a good article about the tensions between science and imperialism (i.e. science was often used to justify imperialism. We have to find a way to separate all that from it, so it can be effective).


Quanta Magazine – My all-time favorite science magazine. They present new findings, discuss the history of the conversation around them, and add food for thought. I love this magazine. Focus: Physics, Math, Computer Science, Biology.

Simmons Foundation – I may be biased. The Simmons Foundation powers Quanta. But they also have more content beyond the focus Quanta provides. Here’s a good one about the source of that beautiful gaseous cloud we can see in the Milky Way when we’re camping.


Thoughts on life in RSS

I’m happier than I was in social media, and I’m learning about things that give me joy. Finally, I have time to focus on the content the Digital and Hybrid Pedagogy labs produce and learn about new findings in Physical theory from Quanta.

So far as keeping up with friends? We’ve begun long email chains like it’s 2004.

The other benefit: When I do see a human being in person, I 1) don’t know everything new in their life and 2) have something interesting to talk about because I found it on my RSS feed.