Feeds—RSS and Atom—failed pretty spectacularly back in the day. They went from being the ‘next big thing in technology’ to ‘that out-of-date thing that makes podcasts work’.
From boom to bust, from exciting and big to boring and merely functional. Google Reader was shuttered. Newsgator rebranded and shifted away from RSS. Feeds seemed destined to be yet another failed late 90s piece of technology.
Yet it seems to be having a bit of a comeback. Turns out feeds are the technology behind both Apple News and Facebook Instant Articles.
There’s one thing that’s very different this time around for RSS and Atom and it’s the reason why this time it might be different. Back then ‘just the HTML, no CSS, JS, or Flash’ meant nothing more than rich text with images.
Now, ‘just the HTML’ means rich text, video, audio, SVG, and more. While at the same time ‘HTML with CSS and JS’ has come to mean slow loading websites full of annoying ads and broken functionality (i.e. scroll-jacking).
And ‘HTML with all the trimmings, including Flash’ has become a surefire recipe for getting malware and viruses.
The rules of the game have changed.