The one app to read them all already exists, and it’s called RSS

RSS, or Rich Site Summary, is a website reading technology nearly as old as the consumer Web itself. And yet it can keep you on top of news and perspectives in ways social networks can’t. How it works is really simple yet smart:

  1. Blogs and websites publish an RSS feed accessible at a specific link.
  2. This link contains a list of recent posts from the site along with their content.
  3. feed reader, which is any app or web service capable of reading said link, regularly pulls such posts for you to browse and auto-track new items.
  4. To add a feed link to your reader, you usually don’t need to hunt where it lies on each site. Simply paste a website’s homepage link in your feed reader, and it will find one for you.

A feed reader, sometimes called an RSS reader, saves you from manually checking multiple sites or apps by bringing all their new posts in one inbox. Here’s what such a reader looks like:

Screenshot from my feed reader, Feedbin, showing its three-pane layout of added feeds, posts from the selected feed, and content of the selected item.

Feed readers also let you read posts from social networks that support RSS such as RedditMastodon, and Bluesky. This way you can escape the attention grabbing traits of social media, and only browse posts from people you decided to follow. At this point if you feel like escaping the YouTube algorithm too, the good news is feed readers let you follow YouTube channels and playlists too. Moreover, since podcasts are actually powered by RSS, you can subscribe to them in feed readers too.

As if all that wasn’t enough, some readers like Feedbin let you subscribe to newsletters as well. No more cluttering your email inbox, and no more consuming content in places where you tend to communicate instead—be it with humans or robots. And this way your email and you stay private. While adding newsletters is typically a paid feature on feed readers, you can use free workarounds like Kill the Newsletter. On the actual news front, sites like The Economist publish multiple news feeds for you to pick and choose.

Feed readers are particularly useful to scientists, academics, journalists, and researchers of all kinds by letting them track newly published research papers via RSS. Indeed, many journals have RSS feeds. In fact, this aspect is so useful that the Arizona State University has an entire page dedicated to how you can grab RSS feeds links for various popular journals.

If I’ve convinced you to try out a feed reader already, I suggest getting started with Inoreader. It has a generous free plan, and its mobile app is pretty good too. Feeder is decent too. If you’re as yet undecided, or simply curious to know more about the delightful prowess of RSS, read on.

RSS has four key human attributes, either or all of which you might desire:

  1. Convenience
  2. Control
  3. Dumbness
  4. Privacy


Having all the thoughts you actually want to consume converge in one place is immensely time-saving if not game changing. And to avoid your reader inbox feeling like a firehose, feed readers let you organize your feeds into folders. Browsing posts by folder not only let you scan all related posts in one place but also ignore topics you may not be in the mood for.

Now here’s the kicker. A feed reader is also a little personal search engine. You can search posts across all of your feeds, or only within certain feeds or folders. Combined with more filtering features like advanced search syntax and keyword monitoring, closely following specific topics of interests becomes radically easy on feed readers.


RSS is spam-less. Unlike email, where you can receive things from organizations even though you didn’t explicitly subscribe to them, there exists no obvious mechanism in RSS for someone to send you things at random. To receive anything from anyone via RSS, it is you who needs to manually add their feed to your reader. And if you unfollow a feed, it is you who can later decide to receive it again.


If there’s one thing the feed reader is smart about is that it chooses to be dumb. Unlike most social media apps, a feed reader has no algorithmic timeline promoting “popular” posts and suppressing authentic ones. Your stream of posts won’t have content from randomwhere either. You simply get who and what you follow, from latest to oldest or vice versa.

If you decide to check your reader after a month, it will let you pick up from where you last left off without screwing up the order of posts or giving you algorithmic FOMO. Like an email client, a feed reader tells you which items you’ve read and which you haven’t, to ensure you don’t miss anything. And if you’re okay with missing things, you can mark everything as read. The categorizing, filtering, searching, selecting, and pruning of feeds is all up to you. That’s really the point after all: you’re the driver.

Privacy, for freedom

When you subscribe to blogs, newsletters, social network profiles, websites, podcasts, news, YouTube channels, and whatever else via RSS, their owners and publishers can’t know that you’ve done so! They won’t be notified that you follow them or be able to see your email—much less what you read. This feature isn’t about hiding anything but rather exists to give you the freedom to follow and unfollow without association and dissociation.

These attributes of RSS greatly aid my work as a space exploration writer, which involves scanning over 150 sources of information every single week, reading several dozens of them, juggling perspectives, and often searching for the littlest of things across it all. I’ve been absolutely loving spending time in Feedbin for three years now. It’s the best $5/month tool I’ve ever used, to the point where I consider Feedbin to be the only employee I’ve hired as an independent writer.

If my article persuaded you to use a feed reader, here’s a heartfelt thank you for using the best, most ethical reading technology on the Internet ^_^. And if you get stuck in using a feed reader, I’m happy to help.

Pro tip: When reading a post in your feed reader, you can click on its title to visit the original webpage. This helps if you want to share the page, explore the site, read the full story if the RSS only provides briefs, or contact its human.

P.S. It shouldn’t be surprising at this point my blogs have RSS feeds, and so if you’d like to read my words from the comfort of your feed reader, click below:

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