Why RSS is the Cat’s Pyjamas (and what RSS is)

Christmas Art Books 2017 Cat

Imagine there was a way you could go to one place and get a clickable list of what’s new on all your favourite websites. No more scrolling through notifications or having Facebook decide what it thinks you should see or hiding things because you’ve already seen it. No trolls, no adverts, just you and your personal library of links.

And, as I’m sure you knew, I’m now going to say you don’t have to imagine. It exists. It’s not new, predating social media. It’s called RSS, which stands for Really Simple Syndication. You don’t have to remember that. Just call it a Feed Reader — it feeds you things to read from different sources you choose. (See this Lifewire article on how it works.)

There are various options available, with different features — look at this Lifewire list for free options. I use The Old Reader, which is simple, uncluttered, and free for 100 feeds. The only thing I don’t like are the pale grey scroll bars which don’t stand out against the background. To add a new website to the list, you just click on add a subscription, paste in the website URL (e.g. www.marion.scot) and it automatically hunts for the RSS feed URL ( www.marion.scot/feed ).

Some people set up their websites so only headlines appear in a feed reader, and you have to click on this and go to their website to read the piece. This is done simply to get traffic onto their website (reading the full article on a feed reader doesn’t give a page view on your website stats) and hopefully you’ll look around a bit too.

So what’s on my feed reader? I won’t list all 100 not least because it includes sites on search engine optimisation tips, but here are half a dozen:

  1. Brain Pickings (by Maria Popova, who is exceptional; buy her book Figuring too!)
  2. Hyperallergic (arts news)
  3. Gurney Journey (the Dinotopia creator)
  4. Photo Hebride s (my favourite Skye-based photographer)
  5. Paper Rainbow (Skye-based collage artist Morag Archer)
  6. Splashing Paint (Australian watercolourist John Lovett)
  7. I also follow my own blog, so I can check it’s working ok.
Stealth Studio Cat

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