Given that tech companies have taken to these newsletters to plead their case to the beltway, they certainly don’t want to lose the readers of these email newsletters, either. That provides a market incentive to make a better, bigger, bolder RSS reader. And if Ben Thompson is right that that “text on the internet is arguably the most competitive medium in all of human history,” then there is an opportunity for a very retro version of tech disruption.
Newsletters have been the pandemic “darling”. However, I have been writing about it repeatedly-to avoid them. There is no specific way users interact with the service to create filters and folders to organise the emails. I did try to help one of my relatives manage Gmail, and I was completely overwhelmed with the multitude of choices offered. There were thousands of emails with product promotions and classified according to Google’s algorithms, but the finer granular controls to organise them were hidden behind several layers of drop down menus. I also admit I haven’t used Gmail over 15+ years (I pay for Fastmail) and I haven’t missed it for a minute. I consistently maintain an inbox zero, and I am happy with that organisation.
RSS feeds were never “dead”. The usage declined, definitely, but only because there is still no “return on investment” or publications whose marketing teams convince executives that internet traffic is the real metric of popularity. Never mind, the real versus bot traffic to defraud the advertisers is a real unsolved problem. That’s why you end up seeing a lot of “captchas” to solve if you are behind a VPN. I have crossed swords with my favourite editor, pushing through RSS feeds and hence, delivery through Telegram, but their “marketing department” thinks otherwise.
I am glad the discussion around RSS readers is firming up. May I recommend Inoreader? (I don’t have any affiliate marketing links). I am happy to use it and avoid Feedly – they are an overpriced and overhyped option (and poor customer service to boot) with an awful UI.