Hello again, RSS

Jan 01 2023

The collapse of Twitter under Elon Musk over the last few months feels, in my corner of the universe, like something potentially a little more germinal; unlike in the various Facebook exoduses of the 2010s, I see people grasping towards different models of the architecture of the Web. Mastodon itself (I’ve ended up at @benmschmidt@vis.social for the time being) seems so obviously imperfect as for its imperfections to be a selling point; it’s so hard to imagine social media staying on Rails application for the next decade that using it feels like a bet on the future, because everyone now knows they need to be prepared to migrate again.

And federation itself is intensely interesting. As a resolute static-site blogger since around 2013 or so, I’ve long been frustrated with the loss of comments; Mastodon & company offer the first legit opportunity I’ve seen to bring them back, by allowing discussions to happen in chat apps but to stay linked to the place where a post might live permanently.

I’ve started noodling around with turning benschmidt.org into a fediverse node of its own–about which more if I ever make any real process–but in the meantime, I realized that I’ve actually been neglecting web fundamentals on this site. In the last year I’ve migrated both this blog and the archived content from my old, Google-hosted one into a static-site maintained in Svelte-kit and authored in Markdown. Out of obstinance, I’ve refused to use any Markdown parser other than Pandoc, which has led me into one of the more interesting projects I’ve worked on, implementing Pandoc documents as Svelte-components. But that means the raw HTML is a little tricky to place into RSS, and I have to implement RSS myself… And it’s not like having an RSS feed is interesting. Having blog posts syndicate right into the Fediverse, maybe stop using Mastodon as my point of origin–that would be interesting.

But doing that without RSS is a cart without a horse. So at the end/beginning of the year, the work is done, thanks to an excellent node package called feed. This post serves to announce them: https://benschmidt.org/rss.xml and https://benschmidt.org/atom.xml. Subscribe away!