RSS (Really Simple Syndication) has been around since early March 1999 when Netscape created RDF Site Summery which was effectively the first version of RSS. It was used by publishers to display their content to My.Netscape.com. A few months after the first release Netscape simplified the technology and renamed it as Rich Site Summary but then subsequently quit participating in RSS when AOL took them over.
A new version was released in 2002, at which time the technology was renamed as Really Simple Syndication, or RSS.
So, now you know some of the background on RSS, but why would it end up as a section in a chapter of the Privacy Cookbook? And even more so in the Home Office Apps chapter? Well, for one, it seems that many of my close friends and family have never heard of it, even though they have seen the icon on the website. Or if they heard of it, they don't understand or use it.
Put simply, with RSS, you can follow websites without activating trackers, you can get all the sites in one simple feed and best of all you can even use bridges to follow Telegram Channels, Facebook Pages, Twitter or even people on Instagram. All in a much more private fashion than installing an app or following them on your browser. Furthermore, it will save you a lot of time vs visiting all the individual websites one by one.
Firstly, you need to chose an RSS reader. On Android, you have a great option.
If you're self-hosted and syncing between all of your devices via Nextcloud, a good RSS reader would be:
On iOS, you have NetNewsWire or Reeder5 or many other RSS readers you can find in the store. Fiery Feeds can also be synced with Nextcloud.
After finding the RSS reader what fits you best, all you have to do is to locate the little icon or link saying RSS on any given website.
Our decentralize.today RSS feed can be found at https://decentralize.today/rss
For websites and services that do not offer RSS out of the box, you can use an RSS Bridge.
RSS-Bridge is open-source and you can host it yourself.
As you will see you have great options via the bridge for Twitter where you can follow people by username or a keyword / #hashtag. Another great way round this is to follow people via Nitter. To make them pop in your RSS feed, just add /rss at the end.
The RSS bridge also has solutions for Instagram, Facebook and Telegram, hell! even Apple Music is covered.
If you are still not on Mastodon you can use the RSS bridge here as well and even select with replies. So, you can follow posts with comments and see the conversations on this or that particular toot.
Reddit is another great example via the RSS bridge where you can follow a single SubReddit or multiple SubReddits at once.
And yes, you can also follow usernames/channels and playlists on YouTube via RSS.
With RSS, you can not just improve your privacy, but also check on things what matter faster and all in one app. The apps usually only pulltexts but there are some that have the option to also download pictures. This way you never need to leave the actual app and no tracker is intercepting your experience.
I use RSS for most of the news I have to catch up with daily. And even though 2021 is already a month in, it is a New Year's resolution of mine to spend less time on my gadgets and more with family and friends. With RSS, this is made easier, you can save plenty of time and above all it makes your experience more private.
And all with a solution that is almost as old as the internet itself!
Stay safe and go RSS ;)