Felix Crux

Technology & Miscellanea

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How do you follow your favourite online creators and their blogs, articles, videos, podcasts, comics, or what have you? How do you choose what to read when you have a few minutes to kill on the bus, or when you want to get caught up in the morning with a cup of coffee?

Most people hand this choice over to social media, inviting along the whole associated host of problems like clickbait; outrage amplification; snooping targeted advertising; radicalising rabbit-holes; echo-chambers and filter bubbles; algorithms choosing what to show you based on “engagement” rather than what you’d want for yourself; and on and on.

There’s a better way — and there has been for decades! Amazingly, it seems underused even within tech circles, and almost completely unknown to the general public. It’s super easy to use, actually more convenient than social media apps, and leaves you in complete control of what you see.

I’m talking, of course, about RSS/Atom web feeds, and I contend that they are not only a better alternative, but in fact I’d go so far as to say that a feed reader is the only tolerable and civilised way to read online! The system works really well and more in line with what (I think) most people actually want; it minimizes the use of harmful social media platforms; and it helps foster a more vibrant, independent, creative, and non-commerical Web. So drop your non-chronological algorithmically-obscured sponsored timeline, and let’s have a whirlwind overview of what feeds are and how to use them!

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So the W3C has officially ceased work on the next iteration of the XHTML standard, abandoning it in favour of the new and shiny HTML 5. I have some mixed opinions on this, since the simplifying purist in me likes the consistency and rigour provided by XHTML, but HTML 5 appeals to my more pragmatic instincts. HTML 5 also has support for a slew of nice semantic tags, like <section>, <article>, <header> and <footer>, which should make it easier and cleaner to style documents according to their content, and do away with the ubiquitous <div id="blogpost"> constructs that currently make up most sites.