Is RSS dead 1

Real insider tips are rare. Most of the time they are either not secret or not worth recommending. But it does exist: RSS is the greatest technology that hardly anyone knows - and that should change. The three letters stand for Really Simple Syndication. Almost all large websites offer so-called feeds that can be subscribed to with RSS readers. As soon as the content of the page changes, it creates an entry in the feed. If about on SZ.de a new article appears, it appears in the RSS structure.

That sounds banal, but anyone who is interested in news, regularly visits online media, saves clicks with RSS and is better informed. The technology is considered complicated, but it is very simple. It only takes two things: a website that supports RSS and software that collects the feeds. Who, for example, the news from SZ.de, Time online and Mirror online you no longer have to go to each page individually and see if there is anything new.

Instead, the texts end up bundled in the RSS reader. There you can see - depending on the setting - a short text and a small picture next to the heading. If you want to read the article, click on it and land on the website on which the article was published. It is also possible to subscribe to individual sections or authors. RSS dates back to the past millennium, so it's a dinosaur of the internet. The same fate is forecast over and over again for the protocol: extinction due to unexplained circumstances. The role of the alleged meteorite is assumed by a popular villain who is said to have Myspace, journalism and democratic discourse on his conscience: Facebook.

Users are too comfortable to collect their messages themselves and prefer to find out more in social media, writes Fabian Scherschel at Heise and concludes: "RSS is dead, and that's a shame." It is too complicated, not designed for everyday use by normal people. Scherschel is right about one thing: the day when the last RSS feed disappears and the last RSS reader closes would be a sad one. However, this fate is far from being decided. On the contrary: RSS lives and is in the best of health.

At the end of July, Mozilla announced that it would remove the built-in RSS reader from the Firefox browser. What sounds like a coffin nail and was probably also the reason for Scherschel's swan song, is no reason to panic on closer inspection. 99.9 percent of Firefox users would never have used this function anyway, the company says. Instead, they use specialized services such as Feedly, Inoreader or The Old Reader, which offer their own apps and websites for this purpose. In the spring, the Wired the three companies and spoke to the founders. We're doing fine, they said, we're growing. A few months later, the Tagesschau received the same answer, and SZ also said: Don't worry, the Facebook meteorite has not yet struck.

Social networks relieve the user of the choice of messages

"I can't really explain it either," Dave Winer told Wired. The programmer helped develop several important web protocols, including RSS. Given the "abuse" that the technology had experienced, he feared worse. Among other things, he means Google. Five years ago, the company discontinued Google Reader, which was the most popular tool for reading RSS feeds at the time. The users were briefly angry - but then did not migrate to Facebook, but looked for alternatives. At that time, more than half a million people registered with Feedly within 48 hours, and now more than 15 million people use the service.

The promise of social networks is: We'll show you what really interests you. We make all decisions for you and sort the content for you. You don't have to worry about which criteria our algorithms use for this. Just trust us. For the general public, that seems to fit. More than 2.2 billion people use Facebook, and the personalized newsfeed has made a significant contribution to the success of the network. Twitter, too, has long since moved away from the originally chronologically sorted timeline. Now algorithms decide what is supposedly relevant for the individual user and which tweets are displayed first. Facebook is like a canteen: by following certain pages and choosing their friends, they can at least determine the basic ingredients of their media menu themselves. You have the choice between meat, vegetarian and salad. Sometimes it tastes good, sometimes it's too salty. Those who use RSS readers cook for themselves: they know exactly what is going into the pot and can decide anew every day what they want.

It takes more effort, and many people prefer to go out to eat. But Facebook is not a star chef. The network repeatedly exaggerates with the chilli: When it comes to political issues, anger and outrage dominate - the algorithms react to interaction, and people like and share above all content that affects them emotionally. The result is served daily by the 10,000 Flies service, which collects the articles with the most Facebook interactions. It's a dystopian parallel universe. False reports are regularly shared ten thousand times.

Facebook also noticed this and has shown fewer links to online media in the news feed since the beginning of the year. Vacation photos from friends instead of news from journalists, weddings and cats instead of refugees and climate change. It doesn't have to be bad. As a social network that connects people, Facebook has grown up. It has fallen into crisis as a global platform on which people can find out about world events. Fortunately, there are good alternatives. The best is called RSS.

Tips on setting up and using an RSS reader at www.sz.de/rss-tipps.