A humminbird feeding itself on a bright orange flower.

#FeedReaderFriday: A Suggestion for Changing our Social Media Patterns

In the recent Twitter Migration, in addition to trying out Mastodon, I’ve been seeing some people go back to blogs or platforms like Micro.blog, WordPress, Tumblr, WriteFreely (like Mastodon it’s a part of the Fediverse, but built for blogging instead of short posts) and variety of others. They’re looking for a place where they can truly own and share their content, often in healthier and more humane ways. Many are extolling the virtues of posting on their own website so that they own their content to protect against the sort of platform problems many are now seeing and experiencing on the rapidly dying birdsite. I’ve seen a growing number of people in/on several platforms reviving the early Twitter practice of to help people discover new and interesting people to follow.

As a result, while everyone is exploring new platforms and new online spaces for maintaining their identities and communicating, I’m going to suggest something else interesting to shift our online social patterns: Instead of spending time on Twitter, Mastodon, Instagram, or other major social platforms, start practicing by carving out some time to find and follow people’s websites directly with a feed reader or social reader. Then engage with them directly on their own websites. 

I already spend a reasonable amount of time in a variety of readers looking at both longform articles as well as social media posts (status updates, notes, bookmarks, and photos), but starting this Friday, I’m going to practice . Instead of opening up Twitter or Mastodon, I’ll actively and exclusively reach for one of my feed readers to read people’s content and respond to them directly.

As part of the effort, I’ll share people’s sites I follow and enjoy. I’ll also suggest some feed readers to try out along with other related resources. I’ll use the tag/hashtag to encourage the website to website conversation. If you’re interested in the experiment, do come and join me and help to spread the word. 

Currently I’m relying on readers like Inoreader, Micro.blog, and Monocle, but there are a huge variety of feed readers and a nice selection of even more fully featured social readers available.

Just as many people are doing the sometimes difficult but always rewarding emotional labor of helping people migrate from the toxicity of Twitter and its algorithmic feeds, perhaps those of us who have websites and use social readers could help our friends and family either set up their own spaces or onboard them to social readers in this effort? Mastodon’s decentralized nature is an improvement and provides a reasonable replacement for Twitter, but eventually people will realize some of the subtle issues of relying on someone else’s platform just as they’ve seen issues with Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, or the now defunct Google+. 

Feel like you’ll miss people’s content on traditional social media? There are definitely a variety of ways to follow them in a variety of feed and social readers. Not sure what RSS is? Feel free to ask. Know of some interesting tricks and tools you use to make discovering and subscribing to others’ blogs easier? Share them! Have fantastic resources for discovering or keeping up with others’ websites? Share those too. Not quite sure where to begin? Ask for some help to better own your online identity and presence. 

It may be a slow start, but I think with some care, help, and patience, we can help to shift both our own as well as others’ online social reading and correspondence habits to be kinder, smarter, and more intentional. 

What will you read on ? Who will you recommend following?


Featured photo by Dulcey Lima on Unsplash

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Chris Aldrich

I'm a biomedical and electrical engineer with interests in information theory, complexity, evolution, genetics, signal processing, IndieWeb, theoretical mathematics, and big history. I'm also a talent manager-producer-publisher in the entertainment industry with expertise in representation, distribution, finance, production, content delivery, and new media.

86 thoughts on “#FeedReaderFriday: A Suggestion for Changing our Social Media Patterns”

  1. content, often in healthier and more humane ways. Many are extolling the virtues of posting on their own website so that they own their content to protect against the sort of platform problems many are now seeing and experiencing on the rapidly dying birdsite. I’ve seen a growing number of people in/on several platforms reviving the early Twitter practice of #FollowFriday to help people discover new and interesting people to follow.
    followfriday

  2. As a result, while everyone is exploring new platforms & new online spaces for maintaining their identities and communicating, I’m going to suggest something else interesting to shift our online social patterns: Instead of spending time on Twitter, Mastodon, Instagram, or other major social platforms, start practicing #FeedReaderFriday by carving out some time to find and follow people’s websites directly with a feed reader or social reader. Then engage with them directly on their own websites. 
    feedreaderfriday

  3. I already spend a reasonable amount of time in a variety of readers looking at both longform articles as well as social media posts (status updates, notes, bookmarks, and photos), but starting this Friday, I’m going to practice #FeedReaderFriday. Instead of opening up Twitter or Mastodon, I’ll actively and exclusively reach for one of my feed readers to read people’s content and respond to them directly.
    feedreaderfriday

  4. Just as many people are doing the sometimes difficult but always rewarding emotional labor of helping people migrate from the toxicity of Twitter and its algorithmic feeds, perhaps those of us who have websites and use social readers could help our friends and family either set up their own spaces or onboard them to social readers in this effort?

  5. Mastodon’s decentralized nature is an improvement and provides a reasonable replacement for Twitter, but eventually people will realize some of the subtle issues of relying on someone else’s platform just as they’ve seen issues with Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, or the now defunct Google+. 

  6. Feel like you’ll miss people’s content on traditional social media? There are definitely a variety of ways to follow them in a variety of feed and social readers. Not sure what RSS is? Feel free to ask. Know of some interesting tricks and tools you use to make discovering and subscribing to others’ blogs easier? Share them!

  7. Have fantastic resources for discovering or keeping up with others’ websites? Share those too. Not quite sure where to begin? Ask for some help to better own your online identity and presence.  It may be a slow start, but I think with some care, help, and patience, we can help to shift both our own as well as others’ online social reading and correspondence habits to be kinder, smarter, and more intentional. What will you read on #FeedReaderFriday? Who will you recommend following?
    feedreaderfriday

  8. @chrisaldrich I see. “On the IndieWeb your website is your identity.” That only starts to be a problem. I have two. Which one to use? I rarely touch them nowadays. Most people don’t have websites anymore. So it’s small community compared to Twitter/Mastodon. I think we must reduce friction to the absolute minimum.

  9. @chrisaldrich It’s possible to run a personal ActivityPub server. Pleroma and Misskey are even available as Yunohost apps. Why is an approach like webmentions preferable?Of course with the right plugins you can connect it all together, but I do wonder if building around publish/comment diminishes the sense of a shared virtual space. One might say that a single user ActivityPub instance does the same thing, to be fair.I’m not trying to criticize, just thinking “out loud”.

  10. As an extensive consumer of RSS feeds, I really like this idea, and will do my best to join in. (Prompted by this post, I finally got round to making my Friends of Charles Darwin site’s RSS feed more human-readable/friendly, so people who encounter it on the website receive some sort of explanation of what an RSS feed actually is.)

    My main problem with following the recommendations of this post (which, apart from using the hashtag, I have already been trying to do lately—although not as much as I’d like) is that many of the RSS feeds I follow are about topics of personal interest from non-personal (often Big Media) websites. I filter these links and mention them in newsletters, Facebook pages, occasional blog posts, tweets and (coming soon) toots. But what I’m really missing from the golden days of blogging/RSS are the personal blogs from individuals with interests in specific topics. Finding these is surprisingly difficult (unless the topic in question is blogging, the Fediverse, etc.). I follow a few specialist blogs about the history of science, nature writing, science, etc., but I wish there were more—and that they were easier to find. Perhaps, if this sort of initiative takes off, they will become easier to find, but where are the blogs of yesteryear?

  11. Sorry, late to getting to this piece Chris, as I get to my feeds in my own time. I have long lived a feed first existence. Even when engaging with Twitter, I have been consuming via my feed reader. I just realised that I can also produce a feed for Mastodon too using Granary.io. I sometimes feel like I am late to the conversation, however on the flip side I feel that the conversation is more in hand. I feel that if it is worth having then waiting is fine.

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