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Reflecting on my RSS habits

April 29, 2021

While listening to a nice compilation of Jazz Chill (no sponsoring, my Macbook mostly became my private juke box since I switched to Ubuntu), I was thinking of how my web reading habits evolved with time. Back in 2010 I was learning a lot of useful tips almost every day on Twitter, and I collected thousands of bookmarks during 8 or 9 years. Nowadays, there’s nothing left on Twitter except personal timelines I like to follow from time to time. I always have had an RSS feed reader since 2008, but it is now my primary source of information and I don’t even have to leave my terminal for reading interesting blog posts.

Looking at the tags I have in Newsboat, I realize half of the blogs I follow are about Unix, Emacs and Vim, and Lisp. The remaining feeds are all about statistics, mathematics, infosec and web dev. Back in 2010, 80% of my feeds were about R and statistics. I cleaned up most of the R feeds I was following, and many statisticians I was following no longer maintain their website. Hopefully, some blogs are still alive and I keep reading some of these old real gems (e.g., John D. Cook‘s blog; see also my top list). I renewed my reading list, of course. I have little confidence in the sustainability of some websites hosted on github.io, but right now I’m happy with my reading list. I estimate that around 15% of the feeds I have are dead by now, but that’s okay. There’s the history in plain text on my hard drive in case I want to read old posts of theirs.

Needless to say, I can understand why some of them quit. With the advent of social networks, blogging platforms (e.g., Medium), Github gists etc., it has become easier and easier to communicate without investing too much time and energy into long time sustainaibility. After all, those platforms should take care of keeping your writings “alive”, and if you don’t have much time or inclination to continue, you can leave it there. It’s just as exciting to start writing on a blog as it is easy to forget to update it. This kind of consideration has often happened to me in the past. Also, interests can change from one day to the next, professional activities and family life also change. I’m not blaming those folks who wrote wonderful content and stop one day. After all, we must be happy for what happened, and not be sad when the story ends.

That being said, here’s the state of affairs as of 2021. One of the blog I will miss, though, is that of Larry Wasserman. It was an amazing source of inspiration for statisticians. The end of the journey was a thing, too:

Which brings me to the point of this post which, to quote George Costanza, is: Alright! That’s it for me. Goodnight everybody.
I have pretty much covered all the topics I wanted to cover in this blog. So at this point I have three choice: (1) Start reporting on daily trivia such as the antics of my cats Dizzy and Miles. (Did I mention that Dizzy caught a mouse a few days ago?); (2) Start posting every other month. (No good: people stop reading.); (3) Stop.
I think the third option is the best.
To all of you who have been reading the blog: thanks. And a special thanks to those who have commented or written guest posts.
Who knows, perhaps I will start another blog someday. But for now, Hasta la vista, baby. — Normal Deviate – The End

Hopefully, Frank Harrell is posting some enlightening ideas and recommendations on his own blog. And I keep an eye on John Myles White‘s good old blog. The former is quite recent (two years, IIRC) while I follow the later since 2011. Let’s just hope people will continue publishing good content and make it available through RSS (as far as I can tell, this is not alaways the case and those posts generally end up as simple bookmarks on the Micro section of this site).

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See Also

» Usenet » Back in Mac » Welcome to the Matrix » Customizing your shell » Just write