Switching to a Local RSS Reader

June 22, 2020 ☼ Journal

Yet another change to my digital setup

Over the course of the last few months my setup for how I do things on the computer, and how I organize my things, on making my tools and content really mine, have changed quite a bit. Some have developed over time and some have been a conscious decision. My latest is the switch to read my RSS feed locally.

For many years now I have subscribed to, and paid for, a selection of various RSS/Feed-reader services. There had been at least Inoreader, FeedWrangler and Feedbin that I had subscribed to since Google Reader had shut down and probably a few more that I tried and forgot about. All with the premise of having my feeds, which are an essential part of my daily reading habits, available to me at all times.

Before Google Reader (or at the same time, things are getting blurry) I already used NetNewsWire, which, as far as I remember, had been in the beginning a local reader and only later offered a sync (it also had a Windows app with a different name if I recall correctly) via it’s own service. And that certainly worked fine for me.

In came the phones and the need to sync and have all the feeds available at all times.

In hindsight I’m not sure if that was any progress. Sure it’s great to check my feed while I’m out and about, but I don’t think there is any real difference of checking my feed all the time, than checking-in on (add social media platform of choice). Since I would like to use my phone less, this seems like a reasonable decision.

That, and a look at my ongoing subscriptions list (which by now resides in a nice orgmode table) was reason enough to go down the local-route again. That will solve my compulsive on-the-go checking, free me of yet another service and ultimately give me more control.

I have looked into a couple of tools and the most interesting ones so far had been Elfeed, a feed-reader for Emacs, and Newsboat, a feed-reader for the terminal.

Since I started to, and somewhat get a hang of, and currently am weirdly fascinated of, Emacs, Elfeed seemed the most natural fit. I can easily skim or sort the feed, have a consistent environment at all times and have a consistent logic of navigation and keyboard shortcuts, quickly capture posts as TODOs, organize my subscriptions in a nice and easy to read plain-text file and many more things.

My initial testing so far is very nice, albeit I have to get used to the slower updates now which reminds me to go through my about ~150 feeds that I’m subscribed to and weed out the dormant ones, of which I guess there are plenty.

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