Over on Rubenerd1, Ruben is upset about the death of his favourite feed reader, the Digg Reader.

First of all, who knew Digg still had products that people wanted to use. Second, I’m sort of in the same boat myself. Having just killed my Facebook account, while simultaneously soul searching about what I really want from social media, I’ve thought that maybe I can go back to consuming RSS feeds like I used to.

Only, I’ve logged into my self-hosted instance of Fever and fired up the beautifully made Press (RSS Reader) only to discover that Fever was shuttered and Press hasn’t been updated since 2014. Which isn’t a huge deal for now, as both still work (although Press can’t be found without a direct link), and they both work as well as they did two or three years ago when I stopped using them. The problem is - if I start using them again, relying on them like I used to rely on Google Reader (or as Rubenerd relied on Digg Reader) what will happen when they finally actually die like they inevitably will?

Ruben added a pretty exhaustive list of self hosted software including feed readers, which I will certainly go through and take a look at, but teasing out the right replacement is going to be a pain considering I need to ensure:

  • The software works well and is pretty (I can’t pretend I can use functional ugly software).
  • There’s an equally well made Android client so I can read on the bus.
  • I can install it on my rudimentary cPanel hosting that may or may not allow Ruby/Python etc, but will handle PHP like a champ.

And finally, breaking out of my dot-points into a fully fledged paragraph - I’m not certain a plain feed reader is going to cut it for me any more. When I said I’d been thinking about what I want from social media, I realised that Facebook was not doing it for me because it was full of the opinions of my friends and family, and not a lot more. People might have been posting stuff, but the Facebook algorithm was letting me down, and only showing me page after page of stuff I just wasn’t interested in2.

On the flip side, I use Reddit a lot, and the thing that has me wasting hours of my life there is that it surfaces the quality stuff that thousands, or tens of thousands of people have upvoted from thousands of different communities all in one place. So I can flip from reading a joke, to watching a Russian dashcam, to poring over an article about some new scientific discovery all from a single app. It means I’m not reading the same type of stuff over and over3, but a massive and diverse range of opinion and types of content from all over the world. And I just don’t think there are any other sites quite like it.

Again, there’s nothing that means I need to replace Reddit today either, just like I don’t need to ditch the feed reader that’s still working, but I also didn’t have to ditch Facebook when I did. But I truly believe as responsible modern citizens we need to make better choices about where our software takes us, and the technology we use to get there. Part of that is to stop using stuff that frustrates us, when the only reason we keep doing it is because everyone else is.

So I’m looking for the next Reddit, the next Facebook and the next feed reader all in one. Something that can keep me in touch with people I know and love, but also give me more of what other people I don’t know find funny or sad or inspiring. If something like this already exists, please let me know. If not, I’ll be waiting over here using technology that just hasn’t figured out its days are numbered.

  1. One of the last remaining bloggers ↩︎

  2. No offence everyone! ↩︎

  3. OK, yes I’m not counting reposted content here ↩︎