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The new RSS is… RSS

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Some of us are old enough to remember when RSS (and Atom) were Big Things. Whatever happened to RSS, or syndication, or feeds, or whatever we want to call it?

The short answer is social media.

As the legendary SciFi writer Bill Gibson famously said back in 2010, “Twitter is probably the single most powerful and efficient aggregator of novelty that ever existed.”

Basically, Twitter and, to a certain extent, other social media platforms especially Facebook and LinkedIn, took over the push discovery role that feeds had. Why go to the bother of personally curating your own feed when you could let Twitter’s algorithm do it for you?

And as Twitter became ubiquitous, it became the aggregator not just for cat videos and political vitriol, but also for a lot of information related to business. As a business, you have to be on Twitter. So if you wanted to push information to your users, partners, and customers, Twitter provided a ready-made conduit to do that through that all your users, partners, and customers are already connected.

If you want to tell the world your API is down, the best way to do that is with Twitter.

Or rather that’s how it was with Twitter.

We are witnessing a fascinating work of art and something unprecedented in human history. The richest man on the planet is literally destroying Twitter (and tens of billions of dollars in shareholder value) in real-time in front of appalled users.

My guess is that Musk will sell Twitter within months for cents on the dollar either to a PE firm or to a tech giant.

So, it’s possible that the old Twitter will be new again in the near future. But it might be a ghost town by then and once people and companies have left, there’s no guarantee they are ever coming back. So, if you want to notify people of what’s happening with your API, what are the alternatives?

RSS never actually went away.

Sure, Google killed its popular Reader back in 2013, but like the Big Bad in a horror film, RSS and Atom aren’t that easily got rid of.

Not many browsers support RSS natively anymore, although Chrome on Android does, and plenty of services still do (Chrome, Facebook, Slack, Outlook, Teams), some via a native app or extension, and plenty more through third-party apps/extensions (Discord, Edge, Firefox, Gmail, PagerDuty, Safari). Plus there’s a whole plethora of dedicated feed reader apps, of which Fastly is probably still the most popular in 2022.

Yes, the RSS and Atom standards are old and could certainly do with a refresh. But as of November 2022, given the way things are going with Twitter, it looks like a lot of people are going to again offer RSS and Atom feeds for their notifications. As an industry leader, APImetics will be opening up the notifications for its Serinus tests.

So, dust off your favorite feed reader and plug into APImetrics. Back to the future! It’s sure to be a wild ride.


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