LibreServer Blog / Thoughts on RSS

I just re-added an RSS link to this blog, although such links are increasingly rare to see on the web. Often on blogs there is still an RSS feed, but you have to hunt around for it or guess what the link is. Why do sites do this, and what happened to RSS? Did it become technologically obsolete? Did it stop being useful? I don't think either of those is true.

The problem with RSS was that it didn't fit with what became the dominant business model of the web - surveillance capitalism. This mostly involves gathering a lot of data about how people interact with websites, and also inserting ads. With RSS feeds it's entirely possible that ads could be inserted, but it's not easily possible to use an RSS feed to monitor how people read blog posts - especially if the content is included within the feed - and it would also be difficult to build profiles of individual readers using an RSS feed, since downloading a feed doesn't normally involve logging in.

I think the demise of RSS also resulted in the demise of the celebrity blogger. Back in the 2000s some bloggers gained enough of a following that they would appear on TV shows or news reports. With RSS feeds harder to find it becomes much less convenient to follow and keep up with multiple blogs, and there's then far more incentive to go to centralized sites such as Twitter, which could be thought of as a sort of corporatized blog feed which the reader only has partial control over.