RSS Readers Are Cool

Earl Ng
4 min readMar 31, 2021

Lately I have been trying to stay on top of the news more. Despite 2020 being “the year everyone stayed put” a lot still happened. And I have been frankly embarrassed at myself for not being able to keep up more with what’s going on in the world. I would read the occasional headline on the South China Morning Post or browse through Reddit’s top page. But that has only produced an opinion that is wide but not deep, and a far call from being fully informed.

This came to a head with the recent controversy over WhatsApp’s new privacy policy where I had only managed to scratch the surface of the issue and had not really dug deep enough to fully appreciate the significance of the shift. It took a friend of mine, who reads far more news than I do, to explain to me just how impactful this new privacy policy could be, and how I was wrong to make light of this issue. As a self-proclaimed technologist this was more than embarrassing. So I committed to being better. I needed to read the news more.

But doing something like that is often times easier said than done. The news cycle in the 21st century is fast. And it comes from all multitude of different directions and outlets. Each outlet having its own website that I would have to navigate, and it has these “personal algorithms” that they use to serve you the news that it thinks you want to see. All of which only perpetuates the problem of echo-chambers. No thanks.

What I wanted was one place that had all the news that I needed to read, sorted either based on recency or (ideally) relevance. I imagine that this is what many others look for as well, and can be used to explain the popularity of social media (i.e. Facebook, Twitter, Reddit, etc.). The sheer convenience of having everything in one place is hard to beat.

But I didn’t want to use social media. I want out of the echo-chamber. I want to from as close to the source as possible. So what is the best way out of this? And that’s when I remembered about RSS.

Really Simple Syndication (RSS), is a standardized format websites can post their content on that allows applications to pull and display on feeds. Websites could post snippets of their articles on their RSS feed with a link to the whole thing, or they could just post the entire article to the feed. First introduced in 1999, RSS was quite…

Earl Ng

Consultant, tech-geek, and D&D enthusiast (read: addict)