Introducing People to RSS and Atom Feeds

I am using my main website project, The New Leaf Journal, to promote RSS feeds. I first tried using feed readers many years ago with the now-defunct Google Reader, followed by eSobi (a commercial project that used to come bundled with Acer laptops). It was not until I moved to Linux in 2020 and obtained mobile devices that were capable of running modern feed readers (2021) that I managed to set up an RSS system that stuck.

There are several reasons why I think that promoting feeds is important. Firstly, I think that we should encourage people to choose where and how they consume content. There is no better way to breach the internet gates set up by Google, Facebook, and others than to inspire people to become masters of their own digital homes. Secondly, feeds give content creators like me ways to deliver content directly to readers with nothing in between. Thirdly, I think that the potential to use feeds in conjunction with social functionality is under-explored (to be sure, Activity Pub platforms are working on this using different standards). A future where people can consume and comment on social content without being locked in a walled garden is one we should work toward.

Regarding people I know (not many people, granted), one snag I have run into is that many people have very little familiarity with feeds (for reference, I am dealing mostly with people in their late 20s and early 30s). Save for the programmers who could write their own scripts for consuming feeds, the subject of RSS, Atom, and other similar formats seems to be foreign to many normal internet users. This is unfortunate in light of the fact that I think normal internet users, the kinds of people most likely to consume news through Facebook and Twitter, could benefit greatly from understanding how to incorporate feeds into their reading workflow.

I decided that it would be exhausting to write an introduction for RSS and Atom feeds every time I post a feed-related article. For that reason, I took a stab at a general, reader-friendly introduction to feeds and feed-readers.

My introduction to Feeds

My introduction was RSS-centric, but I also addressed Atom feeds and the newer JSON feeds. While writing the post, I realized two things. First, that WordPress sites natively have Atom feeds as well as RSS feeds. Second, that I could add a JSON Feed for people who both use a compatible feed reader and also prefer the newest standard.

This blog also has built-in Atom feeds thanks to Smol Pub's native functionality. I listed the http, gemini, and gopher feeds for this blog on my personal feeds hub page at The New Leaf Journal:

My feeds from around the web

You can also see the feeds for this blog below:

If you too are trying to spread the word about the power of feeds and feed readers, I hope that you find my new New Leaf Journal post instructive. If you have thoughts or feedback, you can send them via my email below. New Leaf Journal-specific feedback can be sent to naferrell [at] newleafjournal [dot] com.

(I did not do much editing here - so forgive any typos.)

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You may email comments: musings [at] naferrell [dot] com.

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