Not If But When The End Is Nigh Or How I Miss RSS

These images were taken from my iPhone 6s a few nights ago while scanning through Apple’s News app. This News app is actually nothing new. I’ve been using Feedly, Google News, Flipboard, for some time now. Let’s just say I’m nuts for information distribution. But the problem is companies like Apple are incapable of understanding information distribution. Facebook can’t understand it either. Nor can Yahoo or Google. The only ones that come close to understanding it are Reddit and a few (not worth mentioning) online news aggregators. Which means, what we get these days are Apps that give us the pics above.

Empty Apps. Empty world.

Boy do I miss RSS. What happened to RSS anyway? But before I get to that. There’s one minor (major?) thing I miss after having upgraded my 2010 MacBook Pro to a 2015 MacBook Air. I mean, obviously, I’m not gonna miss the slow boot times or the weight of the device on my lap or its forced (convenient Apple) obsolescence. No. What I’m gonna miss is the snappiness and purity of Snow Leopard and that grand mail client that also served as an RSS reader. Yeah, that was cool!

When I first discovered RSS (1999+) I was in heaven. Really Simple Syndication was a godsend to me. Having worked as an industry analyst through the 90s meant that I also had a unique perspective in the area of information gathering. RSS not only gave me a constant stream of access to news but it also provided all the meta data that coincided with that news. The best part? I had full control of what I subscribed to. RSS feeds (or subscriptions) could be automatically stored and were easily searchable. Which means: if it’s too good to be true then it’s too good to be true.

You can guess what happened, dear worst-reader. Like much of the Interwebnets, the owners of information quickly realised that RSS was not something that could be readily monetised. But monetising wasn’t the only factor. If used to the fullest, RSS is the perfect form of mass information distribution. What a dream world that would be (for us news junkies), eh. Yet here we are. News gathering today is no better than it was in 2003.

With that in mind, I guess I should give Apple some credit. Its new News App, which I believe came out with the iPhone 6, is a grand idea in the shadow of RSS readers. But as we can see from the pics above, there is no content available. Not much of a surprise there. Is this embarrassing for Apple? Doubtful. I don’t think Apple gives a hoot. In fact, it makes no sense that they even make an App like this. Unless, of course, they think that they’ve (finally) found a way to monetise information distribution. Since there are no subscription fees for any of News’ feeds, I’ll just assume that this is yet another failed effort.

One last thought. I believe that all information should be free. With that in mind, don’t get wrong. I’m not saying that all information has to be free. If NYT or The Atlantic don’t want to provide us with free feeds, that’s there prerogative. It’s just that the whole idear of paying to be connected to the Internet, then paying again to get information through it and then paying again to buy the software to get information… This is all just another sign of a greed society run amok and no one is able to see through it. Oh wait. Someone did see through it. And look what THEY did to him. My hat is still off and I will forever bow deeply to Aaron Shwartz. But I digress.

Rant on. -Tommi