The Long Farewell To RSS

It’s now been a little over three months that I’ve switched back to reading news feeds via mail using rss2imap.

And the truth is that I’m perfectly happy with it. Not having a web UI means I don’t have anything to maintain, I don’t mind opening the occasional SSH session to run r2e add <url> <folder> in order to subscribe to a feed, and as far as mobile UIs are concerned, the Gmail client has improved markedly over the past couple of months – to the extent where reading feeds on it is a much more fluid experience on both iOS and Android.

It’s so fluid, in fact, that I’ve taken to reading news over breakfast on my ageing Nook Color (which is pokey but usable with CyanogenMod 10.1-RC5) instead of my iPod Touch, solely due to the larger screen1.

Which doesn’t mean I haven’t checked out the competition – a number of my friends and colleagues have migrated to Feedly, but I prefer not having to rely on any specific client and being able to tweak things like automatic cleanup of items, bolting on full text feed support and the near magical way pulls up related items.

Interestingly enough, Gmail has also started to learn from my reading habits somehow and already classifies many items as “important”, which is interesting considering that I’m filing stuff directly into folders and completely bypassing the inbox.

More about the social angle

I sort of miss having a list of “hot” topics and suchlike, but everything I’ve seen is a tad biased and redundant – I don’t need a news reader that highlights what random people consider important, and big stories are always re-posted to death, so most “social” features in RSS readers are useless to me.

I’m still working on classification and suchlike (I’ve developed a rather spiffy fetcher as part of my clean-room implementation of the Fever API), but my current setup works so well I have little reason to tinker with it. Oh, I’ve already decided I’ll eventually rebuild the whole thing atop Celery some day2, but that’s still some way off.

But on the whole my social pendulum is on the back-swing again, so I pretty much stopped using Twitter, Facebook or Google+ of late – I’ve kept around the requisite apps on my iPhone and all but one Mac, but my interactions are now almost solely via Flipboard after reading my morning “newspaper” on my Nook Color.

The irony of finishing my breakfast by flipping through a set of “funny pages” of sorts isn’t lost on me, even though I haven’t picked up a real newspaper in five years or so.

I’ve kept Twitter and Facebook notifications turned on on my Macs (since I only get them for direct mentions or messages) and switched to TweetDeck for those few occasions when I have to use Twitter to follow some sort of event – but otherwise I just don’t care at the moment.

And, as an aside, am very glad indeed I dumped Instagram for Flickr six months ago. An industry (and service) that devolves into providing yet another way of quickly posting cat videos doesn’t deserve a single second of my time3.

There’s too much noise out there for people to be able to think (and create) for themselves – I’d rather do my your own thing.

  1. Alas, I can’t afford an iPad Mini, and I’m reluctant to sell my iPad 3 just yet because it’s my laptop replacement whenever I go on holiday – but I think I’ll eventually end up doing so. Times are tough. ↩︎

  2. This is largely due to Celery having recently allowed me to dramatically scale up an internal project in an afternoon, and my love of distributed processing in general. ↩︎

  3. Mind you, I have absolutely nothing against cat videos, as long as they lead to thinking out of the box. Somehow. ↩︎