makz web

Dipping My Toe Into RSS

Date: 21 February 2019; Mood: Ambivalent

Having spent a fair number of my teenage years posting my life away on LiveJournal, I never actually thought about how my youthful indiscretions were being shared with my friends. I know that each LJ page had its own RSS feed, and whether or not that's how the content was actually loaded for the purposes of friend pages, here I am working on setting up my own RSS feed. It looks like most websites use third party services or server-side scripts to automatically generate the XML without the webmaster's intervention, but what fun would that be? Typing into text editors directly is part of what made the old web feel artisanal. These are farm-to-table keystrokes, people.

Ultimately, alongside the rest of my neocities journey, this is probably an exercise in reminding myself why services like Wattpad and WordPress have become so overwhelmingly popular. Coding things by hand requires a great deal of fiddling, and that effort into the technical side of creation can ultimately stifle the creative process. There are a few articles by other neo-citizens about the lack of rich content on the site. Several claim that form has overshadowed function, with nostalgia-tinted layouts and personal profiles being overly-represented on this service. I can't say anything there; this site is currently about half nostalgic web design and half my personal profile. Even my song translations are mostly of songs that other people have already translated elsewhere on the Internet. I don't think something has to be unique to be meaningful, though. Sometimes we just need an empty canvas and a willing audience.

It would be wonderful if everyone could post as cavalierly to personal, decentralized websites as they can to their Facebook profile. If we all used XMPP clients to chat and RSS to keep connected about daily goings-on, we'd have a much healthier online society. But the tradeoff for that is useability. I don't expect my friends to take time out of their busy lives to learn how to build a website from scratch any more than I expect them to pitch in to buy some server space to set up our own Mastodon instance. I'm techie enough for all of us, and even I haven't gone that far. It is a little lonely to wonder if we'll ever have alternatives to data farming hellsites which can also keep up with the useability of their commercial cousins, though. In the meantime, I'll keep trying to figure out how to be the change I want to see in the world, I guess.