In a happy bit of open-web serendipity, news about two unrelated experiments involving RSS showed up Saturday in my RSS reader. (Of all places.) I found both interesting enough to bounce along to my own little audience, so do allow me to start with the more time-sensitive of them:

Giles Turnbull wants you to use RSS more. To that end, throughout June he runs an art project called Black and White RSS, where he posts one original monochrome photograph to a special RSS feed — and nowhere else. If you can suss out how to subscribe, you’ll wake up every morning (Eastern time) with another photograph shared with you solely on this obscure channel you took the trouble to hook into. It feels pretty nice.

The project’s page is of secondary but significant interest for listing one long-time blogger’s most up-to-date instructions, aimed at a newcomer, on how to subscribe to an RSS feed.

Meanwhile, Kicks Condor shared a video about Fraidycat, a work-in-progress RSS reader with a focus on providing and organizing links to new content, rather than taking the more typical strategy of scooping out the feed’s text content and presenting it in the RSS reader’s own clean and uniform style.

At least, I feel pretty sure that’s an accurate summary; the video adopts a rather oblique presentational style. But this reading aligns with Kicks’ essay celebrating the old web as a wild kaleidoscope — and how Google Reader, however beloved, drained all the color and style from it — so I feel pretty confident in my interpretation.

Fraidycat will also let you tweak the way that different feeds display themselves to you — letting you make links to new articles by less-frequent writers appear more prominently, for example. I’m definitely looking forward to Fraidycat’s public release. This looks fun to play with.


A related aside: Kicks Condor is also the creator and maintainer of indieweb.xyz, an interesting experiment in making something Reddit-like for the IndieWeb, driven entirely through Webmentions. I discovered it by way of Chris Aldrich’s instructions for participating in the IndieWeb Book Club, which I did indeed follow a couple of posts ago.

You may have noticed me participating more in the experiment by adding syndication links to indieweb.xyz at the bottom of recent Fogknife posts.I don’t know how long I’ll keep doing that, but for now I love seeing it work. It has helped remind me how much crackling potential I see in Webmentions as an open-web technology, and I feel impatient to start exploring it more.

This article was also posted to the “indieweb” section of Indieweb.xyz.

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David Turner

Inspired by this, I just repaired my AO3-to-RSS scraper and put up a minimal frontend: novalis.org/ao3-rss.html

Kicks Condor

Giles’ B&W RSS and Fraidycat.

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Kicks Condor

Reply: Irony Double-Down

I’m starting to think that, in Giles’ case, I need to run the photo through some image captioning algorithm and use that as the title. Generally, I won’t use algorithms—but this could be the...

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