Feed readers/content aggregators

Upon the efficient consumption and summarizing of news from around the world.

Remember? from when we though the internet would provide us timely, pertinent information from around the world?

How do we find internet information in a timely fashion?

I have been told to do this through Twitter or Facebook, but, seriously… no. Those are systems designed to waste time with stupid distractions in order to benefit someone else. Facebook is informative in the same way that thumb sucking is nourishing. Telling me to use someone’s social website to gain information is like telling me to play poker machines to fix my financial troubles.. Stop that.

Contrarily, I would like to find ways to summarise and condense information to save time for myself.

Sources that I use for this are on my blogroll.

Current landscape

Feeds are mourned and missing from many fancy modern blogs. Read Anil Dash on The lost infrastructure of social media. However, feeds are still available on, for example, Medium. Anil Dash’s feed, for example, is https://medium.com/feed/@anildash.

Feed readers

New to this game? You know what podcasts are? Podcasts are a type of feed. An audio feed. If I care about news articles and tumblr posts and whatever, not just audio, then I can still use feeds, feeds of text instead of audio. Any website can have a feed. Many do.



Remember when we thought the web would be a useful tool for researching and learning, and that automated research assistants would trawl the web for us? RSS Feeds were often discussed as a piece of that machine.

Little updates dripped from the web, to be sliced, diced, prioritised and analysed by our software to keep us aware of… whatever.

Most feed readers don’t do any of that fancy analysis though, they just give you a list of new items ordered by date. Still, whatever. Better than browsing to the same page and pressing “refresh” constantly, and blogs are in a kind of golden age for the researcher.

Commercial feed reading sites

Indie-style (run my own feed reading website)

I will run my own software if the application is good enough, but it has to be worth the time investment. Let’s say between backups, security issues, confusing DNS failures etc, that’s 8 hours per year of miscellaneous computer wrangling, best case, and more hours if you have complicated things like some multi-user database like MySQL. Few things are good enough to be worth the opportunity cost of that time. Why people insist on running enterprise databases to hold a reading list is an ongoing mystery to me. The capacity to scale to many users is nice, I suppose, but by that logic everyone should drive everywhere in a school bus.

  • miniflux is open-source/DIY, but also offers a hosted version for $15/year.
  • stringer looks like a nice little ruby app but needs postgresql. Bloat. ⚠️
  • tinytinyrss is the original “minimalist” RSS reader; it still needs more databases than is sensible.
  • fever is a weird commercial (USD30) application that you host on your own server. It claims to learn your information preferences, negating my previous complaint. But I cannot be arsed installing some database-wanting app with suspiciously antique language requirements (PHP3) that also costs money to try, so I will never know.

Creating feeds from sites that don’t have them

Feedity generates feed from sites that don’t understand content aggregators.

More generally, web scraping tools coan do this. For example, Scrapy i whose companionn project scrapy-rss converts weird sites into RSS.