Email newsletters vs RSS Readers

One of the many odd things about web technology in 2018 is how email newsletters are a dominant form of content distribution. Ironically, in my day job I’m currently working with a company RSS feed and trying to corral it into an email newsletter - via Mailchimp’s rss-to-email functionality.

It’s absolutely necessary in this era, but it seems so backward. One of the points of RSS (Really Simple Syndication) was to create an alternative to email. These were called RSS Readers and came in various flavours - desktop apps like NetNewsWire and browser-based readers like Bloglines. I still use Feedly, a browser-based RSS Reader, today. But in all honesty, I don’t check it daily. I do check Twitter daily. That kind of sums up the Web in 2018.

Back to email newsletters. I’ve subscribed to a bunch of them and the company I work for produces a daily subscription newsletter. Part of my job is to find ways to make more people open it up and click on the links inside. Which is a tough job, if my own email newsletter reading habits are anything to go by. I rarely open up all my subscriptions every day. Of course I have a few favourites I open regularly - including my own company’s newsletter - but many of the newsletters I’ve subscribed to go unopened for days (and sometimes weeks) on end.

Life is just too busy to be opening multiple email newsletters every day. Also what I’m focused on and interested in at any one time changes regularly. There are currently a bunch of crypto newsletters I signed up to which haven’t been opened for a while - because I’ve become a bit disillusioned with that whole scene.

Which is all to say… time to bring back - or re-imagine - RSS Readers? I don’t want to be stuck in my email. There must be a better way.

Richard MacManus @ricmac