Solved ... Already (And Better)

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Continuing yesterday's theme of working without distraction, I'll toss out a couple of pieces on RSS I encountered in the recent past. The first argues that RSS is a better way to keep up with news than Facebook and Twitter, for any number of reasons, such as signal-to-noise ratio. Here's that author's take on Twitter, in the form of an answer to a hypothetical question:

The wheel: Fine to customize, folly to reinvent. (Image via Wikipedia)
Wonderful! With Twitter, people can keep up with updates interspersed with cat photos, stolen jokes, retweeted jokes and celebrities' political opinions! Subscribers to multiple sites can enjoy the user-friendliness of having them all mushed up together, or having to laboriously visit each outlet's page to see new updates they missed in the firehose of minutiae!
His take on Facebook is somewhat similar.

The author of the second piece focuses more on the benefits he derives from using RSS:
... I like to work in focused bursts. If I'm deep into writing a book or a legal client project. I basically ignore everything else. I close my mail application, tell my phone service to take my calls, and I definitely don't open Twitter. When I finish the job, I can then go back to the Internet. I'll check in on Twitter, but I won't be able to get my news from it. That only works if you go into Twitter much more frequently than I do. That's why RSS is such a great solution for me. If a few days go by, I can open RSS and go through my carefully curated list of websites and get caught back up with the world.
Perhaps there are apps that can filter/save Twitter/Facebook feeds to make them less cluttered/more amenable to scheduling one's reading around one's schedule (rather than the other way around), but that would ... just make them more like RSS feeds.

As the first author notes:
Yes, the technology is dated, but it remains the best at what it does and isn't closed source or tied to some Silicon Valley company. It still works, is widely supported and does what it does better than any alternative that's come out since. Sometimes, newer isn't better. Sometimes the problem has already been solved. No blog or news website should be too new or too minimal to support RSS. [bold added]
Amen. A nice problem that comes with our era of constant and rapid innovation is that the shiny new things can cause us to forget about (or never learn the merits of) the tried and true. One should keep this in mind when choosing tools, as I have discussed before.

-- CAV

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