Return of the RSS reader

“It turns out we don’t want to live in our inboxes all day.”

Privacy-protecting browser Brave is introducing a new news reader, Brave Today, per Ars Technica. Brave’s news reader masks users’ reading behaviors by divorcing IP address details from content delivery requests. Once a user clicks on a news item in the feed, Brave’s reader directs traffic to publishers’ own pages. Brave Today is supported with privacy-protecting offers and promoted content.

This all sounds vaguely reminiscent of an RSS reader, and Brave isn’t the only one revisiting the potential for news aggregation. Substack has also launched at creating a “distraction-free space” to consume email newsletters that isn’t the inbox.

Google killed Reader back in 2013 (RIP ☠️). At the time, Google said its small but loyal user base was dwindling, and that the company was focusing resources towards promoting Google+ and Google Now for news. But the real reason Reader was killed, arguably, was because the aggregated syndication technology that gave readers a clean and consolidated personalized reading experience was fundamentally at odds with an advertising business model that depends on pageviews.

In Reader’s absence, Feedly has been quietly holding down the RSS front and has supported its business with power-user features available to premium subscribers. Feedly already supports email newsletter subscriptions for premium users.

Recent concerns over how our algorithmically curated news feeds are calibrated may drive users back to interfaces that allow hands-on subscription management, filtering, and sorting. It turns out we don’t want to live in our inboxes all day. The glory days of blogging may be making a comeback, if writers are landing on a viable monetization strategy beyond exploiting user data or ads. They’ll just need a place to land that’s not as cluttered as our inbox or as noisy as our social feeds.

Sara M. Watson is a technology critic and a senior analyst at Insider Intelligence.

Privacy-protecting browser Brave is introducing a new news reader, Brave Today, per Ars Technica. Brave’s news reader masks users’ reading behaviors by divorcing IP address details from content delivery requests. Once a user clicks on a news item in the feed, Brave’s reader directs traffic to publishers’ own pages. Brave Today is supported with privacy-protecting offers and promoted content.

This all sounds vaguely reminiscent of an RSS reader, and Brave isn’t the only one revisiting the potential for news aggregation. Substack has also launched at creating a “distraction-free space” to consume email newsletters that isn’t the inbox.

Google killed Reader back in 2013 (RIP ☠️). At the time, Google said its small but loyal user base was dwindling, and that the company was focusing resources towards promoting Google+ and Google Now for news. But the real reason Reader was killed, arguably, was because the aggregated syndication technology that gave readers a clean and consolidated personalized reading experience was fundamentally at odds with an advertising business model that depends on pageviews.

In Reader’s absence, Feedly has been quietly holding down the RSS front and has supported its business with power-user features available to premium subscribers. Feedly already supports email newsletter subscriptions for premium users.

Recent concerns over how our algorithmically curated news feeds are calibrated may drive users back to interfaces that allow hands-on subscription management, filtering, and sorting. It turns out we don’t want to live in our inboxes all day. The glory days of blogging may be making a comeback, if writers are landing on a viable monetization strategy beyond exploiting user data or ads. They’ll just need a place to land that’s not as cluttered as our inbox or as noisy as our social feeds.

Sara M. Watson is a technology critic and a senior analyst at Insider Intelligence.

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