Jeffrey Zeldman, Nothing Fails Like Success:
On an individual and small collective basis, the IndieWeb already works. But does an IndieWeb approach scale to the general public? If it doesn’t scale yet, can we, who envision and design and build, create a new generation of tools that will help give birth to a flourishing, independent web? One that is as accessible to ordinary internet users as Twitter and Facebook and Instagram?
I think so. I hope so. My part is to write a free RSS reader — and make it open source so that other people can easily use RSS in their apps.
RSS isn’t the only part of the solution, but writing an RSS reader is in my wheelhouse. So this is what I choose.
Do I claim it’s as accessible to ordinary internet users as Twitter (for instance)? I do not. But it’s the step forward that I know how to take.
My point is: don’t give in to despair. Take a step, even if it’s not the step that will solve everything. Maybe your step is just to start a blog or open a Micro.blog account. Whatever it is — do it! :) #LetsFixThis
Luminary is a podcast streaming platform that gives you access to 500k+ shows, when and where you want. Sign up today and be the first to try @luminary!
Look ma! Another stand alone app-cum silo billing itself as a podcast solution. What do you want to bet there’s no RSS and it won’t work with any other podcatcher?
Another day, another podcasts startup attracting significant investment, amid the wider excitement around the spoken-word format. This time it’s a Los Angeles-based startup called Luminary, which is launching a slate of more than 40 podcasts including the likes of Lena Dunham, Malcolm Gladwell, Trevor Noah and Conan O’Brien as hosts. What’s more, the New York Times reports that Luminary has already secured nearly $100m of funding.
Its CEO Matt Sacks certainly has all the right lines when it comes to signifying ambitions, too. “We want to become synonymous with podcasting in the same way Netflix has become synonymous with streaming,” he said. “I know how ambitious that sounds. We think it can be done, and some of the top creators in the space agree.”
The way Luminary has gone after some of the most prominent podcasters to create their next shows for its company mirrors what Spotify is doing – there’s something of a land-grab going on for anyone who’s proven their ability to engage listeners with this format. Luminary isn’t just a producer though: it’s launching its own app, which will offer an $8 monthly subscription for ad-free access to its entire lineup. The app will also have an ad-supported free section.
Once the company officially launches (sometime in the first half of 2019, it says), its streaming app will be available as an $8-a-month, ad-free subscription version and free version with ads. Some of its shows will be existing podcasts moving over to Luminary as their new exclusive home, and others will be Luminary originals.
Podcasting, of course, has its own roster of A-list talent best-known to people who wear earbuds a good portion of the day. Three such figures are making their next shows for Luminary: Guy Raz, known for How I Built This and the TED Radio Hour; Leon Neyfakh, the creator and host of Slow Burn; and Adam Davidson, the creator of Planet Money.
While it is not yet a billion-dollar business, podcasting pulled in $514 million in revenue in 2018, according to the Interactive Advertising Bureau. Spotify has recently moved aggressively into the sector, buying Gimlet Media for $230 million.
This sounds like yet another standalone app that is going to turn podcasting into a silo so they can monetize the content. Why not just build a payment system on top of what is already there? They could build less and capture/help out a much larger portion of the ecosystem.
I suspect that RSS will not be involved in this process and one will have to use their app instead of just any app.
Today Substack announced support for sending audio episodes in email newsletters: Subscription podcasting through Substack works in the same way as publishing newsletters. Once the feature is enabled, you can create an audio post that is just like a normal post and can go out to everyone or only to ...
There are other options out there, though in many cases distribution is uneven. There are new specs like JSONFeed which many sites and feed readers support just in the last year.
There are also simpler methods than RSS now including the microformats-based h-feed which one can use to create a simple feed that many feed readers will support.
Part of RSS’s ubiquity is that it is simply so prevalent that most common CMSs still support it. The fact that the idea of RSS is so old and generally un-evolving means there isn’t a lot of maintenance involved once it’s been set up.
Gillmor Gang X - Keith Teare and Steve Gillmor. Produced on Anchor and GarageBand June 18, 2018
I’ve been getting back into Gillmor Gang episodes from the last year and noticed there’s a new shorter offshoot called Gillmor Gang X series. Steve has apparently taken to Anchor to put out slighly shorter episodes. You’ve got to love that just a few minutes into the show he mentions RSS and says (somewhat ironically) that as of six minutes ago we now have an RSS feed. Of course that doesn’t mean that he’s bothering to have any sort of feed for his primary show which still eschews RSS.
Given his long term interest in the music business and watching what the deans of the music business are doing with respect to distribution, I’m surprised that he doesn’t want to own and control his own masters and their own distribution. Perhaps the ease of recording and distribution on platforms like Anchor.fm (for this show) and TechCrunch for his other show is more than enough? They do discuss in the episode that the company is one of John Borthwick’s which may have prompted this series of experiments.
In any case, this seems like an interesting shorter format with fewer guests, so I’m interested in seeing where it goes.
I started using this site as the canonical root of all of my “social” content in 2018, but got lured back into the convenience of Twitter and Mastodon and sort of gave up on that idea. With yet more Facebook and Instagram controversies closing out the year, I had a sudden reminder that I should own my content—not irresponsible corporations like them or Twitter.
Colin, I saw this article last week and I agree with your thoughts. Your analysis and the concept of the fear of missing out is a strong one. It’s even more paralyizing when one is following feeds with longer and potentially denser articles instead of short status updates or even bookmarks.
RSS definitely needs a UI makeover. I’ve been enamored of the way that SubToMe has abstracted things to create a one click button typically with a “Follow Me” or “Subscribe” tag on it. It looks a whole lot more like the follow buttons on most social services, but this one can recommend a feed reader or provide a list of potential readers to add the subscription to. Cutting out several layers and putting the subscription into something where it can be immediately read certainly cuts through a lot of the UI problems generally presented to the average person. It would be nice to see more sites support this sort of functionality rather than needing the crufty pages full of XML and pages describing what RSS is, how it works, and how to add a particular site to a reader.
We’ve come a long way, but we still have a way to to continue on.
Before the internet was consolidated into centralized information silos, RSS imagined a better way to let users control their online personas.
I want exactly this. Let me know what you come up with. The closest thing I’ve seen recently is https://aaronparecki.com/2018/03/12/17/building-an-indieweb-reader
I’ve now removed the titles in the RSS feed from posts in the micro category using the_title_rss. So I’ve reenabled adding of titles through wp_insert_post_data. If this works this post will have a title in my dashboard, but all get through to micro.blog
This seems like a cool potential way of doing all sorts of things in the IndieWeb space for WordPress. I’m curious what it looks like from other perspectives. I’ll have to think this through a bit…
In the end though, it still feels too much like individuals trying to solve problems that should be better handled by feed readers and the platforms.
Earlier this week, Taylor Lorenz, staff writer for The Atlantic on Internet culture, posted this on Twitter: Is there any good way to follow writers on a bunch of diff websites, so anytime they post a story I see a link or something in a single feed? This resulted in a series of over 40 replies with...
Interesting that it looks like she subsequently deleted the original post….