Keeping the RSS Fires Burning

Gondor Calling from the Return of the King
Beacon fire light on a mountaintop

Demogorgon Dreams’s post OSR Blog Rennaissance sparked this blog post.

Google shutdown Reader on July 15, 2013. Even though I hopped over to feedly.com straight away, it took over a year to stop reflexively going to reader.google.com.

Google Reader was a publication consumer. Google+ looked to be both consume and produce publication, without exposing an open publication standard for others to consume. While Google+ thrashed to find its eventual grave, blogs continued chugging along, publishing content. They were the producers in the equation. Google+ provided enough ways to push content from producers into it’s closed ecosystem. Some of what we, the heavy users of Google+, see in the collapse is an absence of a Google provided consumer of blogs end point.

This past week, Google announced it will be shuttering Google+; a place in which the game community initially flocked to, and from which great game collaborations developed. As Google+ goes through it’s death throws, those remaining are looking for safe harbor.

Proprietary platforms have risks. They exist at the whim of their owner. This is doubly true if you aren’t paying for use of that platformHint: You’re attention and concentration is their payment.. For Google Reader, the platform leveraged an open standard (RSS and Atom feeds). Google+ did no such thing.

It is great to see that many game blogs survived the loss of Google Reader (a consumer of content) and the threat of Google+ (a somewhat self-contained consumer and producer of content). It appears to have reinvigorated blogging (a producer of content)I am a bit nervous about so many great blogs over on Blogger. Were Google to shut down Blogger, we’d lose a tremendous amount of content. There is an export option, but that requires active involvement. Hopefully we’ll get a heads up and can plan a life raft if this apocalypse occurred..

As blogs resurge, they’ll continue exposing their RSS and Atom feeds for others to consume through a common and open publication standard. And the heirs to the shattered Google Reader kingdom will keep the RSS consumers fed (Feedly, The Old Reader, and Inoreader).

Personally, I’ve used Feedly for years. But the “Subscribe to an OPML file” feature of Inoreader is perhaps a killer feature; Allowing a centralized OPML file that groups of people could share I recommend subscribing to Save vs. Total Party Kill’s OPML feed for lots of OSR blogs..

Inoreader provides a Save to Drive feature, allowing a quick snapshot of a blog post. Feedly defers to the IFTTT integration hub for such things.

As it stands, I’m testing Inoreader in parallel with Feedly. Thusfar, Inoreader’s edging out Feedly.

An Analogue

I see analogues to Google’s efforts in Wizards of the Coasts licencsing of D&D editions.

D&D 3E created an open system via the OGL. As Wizards of the Coast looked to pivot from 3E to 4E, they looked to tighten up the license. Paizo’s Pathfinder became a rallying cry for many D&D players, while numerous other systems popped up around the open game license. A healthy ecosystem of games developed because of an open standard.

And D&D 4E floundered in part because of its mangled license. It is hard to go from an open standard to a closed standard.

Wizards of the Coast recognized the thriving ecosystem built from their previous open standard. They chose to release D&D 5E under the OGL. And gaming has never been better.

A Late Aside

I’ve also been reassessing my dependence on Wordpress. I pay a bit of money each year for them to manage the hassle. This is their business model, so I know they have an interest in improving my experience. Yet, I want more freedom.

My thought is that I want to have strong ownership in what I write as well as how that is distributed.

I’ve exported my content out of Wordpress into a static site (see takeonrules.github.io) generated by Jekyll and hosted on Github). I now have extreme portability in all of my content, control of its presentation, and multi-site backups (thanks to Git)Go visit Technical Grimoire for a tutorial on Jekyll and the related technologies..

I have yet to flip the switch as I’m weighing the value of comments. I’d need to use something like Disqus to provide comments for my static site. I’m not very thrilled about that. I’d prefer someone write up a response and contact me with a link to their response.

For now, I first write to takeonrules.github.io, then massage the output HTML into something for my Wordpress site.