How I Use RSS To “Rewild” My Attention
RSS brings me weirder and deeper stuff than I encounter on social media
Algorithmically-sorted feeds are good for some things. They let you know what are the big, popular conversations of the day, which is valuable! But if you stare at ’em too much, it’s intellectual monocropping. All you wind up knowing (and thinking about) are the same things everyone else knows and is thinking about.
So it’s also important to rewild your mind — to cultivate your own quirky, overgrown, weedy garden of culture.
Cool. But: How do you find such material?
… using an “RSS reader”.
An RSS reader is at heart pretty simple: It’s a piece of software that lets you “follow” blogs and web sites. Whenever those blogs and sites update, your RSS reader shows you the new headlines (and maybe the first few paragraphs, if you want) in a nice clean list. Follow lots of sites, and your RSS reader becomes a personalized feed of the Internet you’ve chosen to pay attention to.
Generally, RSS readers don’t rely too much on algorithms for ranking posts on virality. They mostly just show you stuff in reverse chronological order.
This makes them much more labor intensive than social media. If you wind up following a few dozen sites (or around 400 , as I do), your RSS reader becomes a truly massive list of daily posts. Figuring out how best to organize that torrent of prose — and how to interact with it — is thus the art of using RSS.
Here’s how I tame the chaos, and Get The Most Out Of RSS: