Podfan
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Podfan

I ❤ RSS

RSS champions the little guy. It empowers the unheard voice, and has made a monopoly in podcasting impossible.

I’d like to take a moment to recognize RSS. An antiquated piece of web technology to be sure, built on XML, a relic of the web’s past. And in fact you can find plenty of articles declaring RSS dead…despite the contrary.

Though it’s no longer a mainstream blog reading tool, it lives on at a grand scale. RSS makes publishing and subscribing to podcasts possible. There are, at time of writing, over 750,000 podcasts. Each one of these publishes an RSS feed which your podcast player consumes. In other words, when you open up Apple Podcasts, or whichever podcast app you use, all the new episodes available for you to listen to are there because they were published in that podcast’s RSS feed.

Since its inception, podcasting has embodied the spirit of the independent creator. And thanks to adopting RSS, podcasting has remained decentralized.

If you were to read one of the “RSS is dead” articles, what they complain about is actually pretty laughable. “Lack of user tracking” and also that “RSS also offers very few opportunities for branding content effectively”, and “No way to insert ads.”

Ha.

RSS came from a time when digital media wasn’t controlled by any major platforms. There were no algorithms, no EdgeRank standing between a content creator and their audience. It was and still is a direct line between the publisher and the subscriber. And in today’s internet, that’s pretty remarkable.

What that means is that anyone, regardless of what color they are, their gender or their beliefs, can publish their voice, and anyone can subscribe to it, without interference, in decentralized bliss. Nobody’s content is favored over anyone else’s.

With the news media, RSS distribution has fallen out of favor. Journalism has become commoditized and the sheer number of articles published daily by each outlet make it impractical. Even blogging platforms (like this one) have dropped support for RSS. But for podcasts, it’s the standard.

Since its inception, podcasting has embodied the spirit of the independent creator. And thanks to adopting RSS, podcasting has remained decentralized. It’s been an open, wild, and untamed frontier in our digital landscape. There may be challenges that we still face, but at the same time there are no shadow bans, no demonetization, no censorship that has plagued giant platforms. RSS champions the little guy. It empowers the unheard voice, and its role as a standard in podcasting has made monopoly impossible.

So here’s to open technologies, regardless of their age, that make an open and free internet possible.

All things podcasts and Podfan!

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Jamie Perkins

Jamie Perkins

Dreamer and schemer, designer turned developer. Lover of music and fine ales.

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