Are Zoomers too dumb to figure out RSS?
Is the title clickbaity and iflammatory enough? FWIW I wasn't the one to express the sentiment nor do I share it. This hoot was prompted by the Twitter exchange that you can see on the side here. Which, I believe, got triggered by yet another Elon-induced Twitter-verse drama. It was rate-limiting this time. This happens often enough now that I just put the phone aside and come back when emotions settle down and the service works again. I for one think Twitter and micro blogging in general absolutely have room to exist even when, personally, I'm more partial to longer form writing, where longer need not apply to the word cound you output necessarily. In my experience there is correlation between how much thought you put in vis-a-vis how many coherent paragraphs you produce. Anyway, back to RSS and Gen-Z.
Allow me not to beat the dead decentralisation horse in this post. Plenty of people have done a better job. I'll just say that for your average information consumer, how or where the sausage is made, matters very little - doesn't make the top of their priorities. When it gets to de-centralisation discourse people either forget or don't even know that a tiny bit of centralisation can actually give you a lot and pushing to the extreme isn't necessarily benefitial. Here's a link to a relevant paper for the curious among my readers: On the Power of (even a little) Centralization in Distributed Processing. There is a reason services like Tailscale and ZeroTier flourish - they don't go extreme. Well, there are many reasons. Great execution and attention to details play a role, for sure.
I guess, every time another Twitter drama unfolds and I see yet another rally around a new oh-so-cool protocol, I ... yawn. Usually, because it's an all or nothing proposition - destroy the world and build a better one - many will've encountered the sentiment, I'm sure. What I care about most is that smart and interesting people have voice and I can hear what they have to say. Preferably in written form. Not the problem that's not been addressed before. Many. Many times. RSS feeds are old, almost as old as the Web we know. RSS standard had its quirks so v2 and Atom were born to remedy most of those. What matters is the simplicity of both the idea (no cognitive burden on the users) and its potential implementation. It mostly deals with publishing and delivery and says very little about the social aspect like getting user feedback in the form of comments, etc. I think that's ok. RSS is very much a product conceived in the age where powers that be placed a bit more trust in the user - that is - you and I:
I'm not going to render it for you: here's the content in structured format with relevant metadata, render it any way you see fit.
That was delegated to your RSS reader. Comments and feedback? Bolt on to your website, link to existing discussion forum, have a public mailbox, etc - whole range of things you can do. That'd be a problem in itself. People don't like choice, cause now they need to choose - make up their mind, it has consequences etc, etc. But, hey, it is decentralized, alright. Part of the beauty of it is that you don't really need to buy into it. When you author and publish, you may choose to also distribute an RSS or Atom feed. Your readers, may choose to add your feed to an RSS client they like and read whenever and however they like. There is nothing do destroy or abandon. You add, you don't subtract - the world gets richer for it. It need not be an earth-shattering decision either side of that pipeline. Is what I'm saying.
git.ht ended up the way it is1 because of everything I said in the previous paragraphs. I want people to write and publish more and more people to write and publish. Spend less time agonizing over how and where to host, which tools or format to use for writing, etc. So, GitHub it is. You use GitHub every day. You're not giving up anything you've not given up already. Incidentally, this is how you win back some of your freedoms - by subverting the system a little bit at a time. Leverage GitHub in an unexpected fashion, turn AWS - GCP - Azure into dumb utility companies with TailOps, etc. It's precisely what they've done to rid us of our freedoms - subtle subversion and lack of generational memory. Is git.ht ideal? Not as cool as having your own blog, but is totally fine to start writing - the earlier in your career the better. You have an interesting idea, a thought you want to expand upon, a bit of research you've done recently or something you've learnt and now you want to share it. You can't make it any simpler than creating a gist. Seriously. Comments are there. Advanced search is there. Markdown you know, preview works great. Content is under revision control. Can edit locally and push, etc. Now anyone with an RSS reader can subscribe to your feed. Sure, this means more people should realise they want to install and start using an RSS reader. Have you done it, yet? Get one, subscribe to your own feed - that'd be a start.
And, no. I don't believe Gen-Z can't figure this one out. They've figured out GitHub. The hell are you on about?
Write. Publish. Install an RSS reader or use a browser extension or smth. Do it today. Teach others. RSS can absolutely be revived. One person at a time. I repeat, not subtracting - adding - nothing for you to say NO to here. You need not abandon Twitter or any other platform you're using. git hooting and share your hoots on whatever social platform you're on today.
EDIT Tried searching for RSS on Hacker News and the top results are just fascinating. So, yeah, please consider going back to RSS and spread the word and knowledge.
As always this hoot is nothing more than a GitHub gist. Please, use its respective comments section if you have something to say. Till next time.
I'm running a (mostly) Clojure SWAT team in London at fullmeta.co.uk. We are always on the lookout for interesting contracts or fulltime gigs. Can perform competently in modern Java, TS/ES, Go. Can target JVM, V8 and Node, .Net, Erlang BEAM. Now that git.ht is up, which you should go ahead and check out rigth now, I am back to CTOing and contracting. If you're hiring, check out my CV and shoot an email to vlad at fullmeta.co.uk.