The Sprawl Club – Issue #?

Look, I don't even know where we left things. Let us pretend that this is Issue √2, and take it from there. Right! How are you, friends? It's been a minute, eh? I've been neglecting this space, that's true. However! To show that I truly, really appreciate the 7.3 billion of who read this thing, I will commit right here and now to writing more often. Also, for those who don't know, I have another fucking blog because I cannot stop collecting domain names. This one is more tEcNiCaL, and it's more of a blog in the classic sense of the “web log”: me writing shit and publishing because I just know I will forget how I did XYZ 3 weeks ago. It's fediverse'd just like this one, meaning you can follow along via Mastodon. Or you can just use your RSS reader. Or you can subscribe via email.

Cool! Hey! If you happen to go to THOTCON on 5/19, I'll have some Sprawl Club stickers for you. Maybe some Cola Gang Industries stickers, too. We'll see. But, speaking of RSS readers, Feedly. What a shit show.

RSS is one of those things that I honestly do not understand why people don't use every single day. I do, and have been for, what? 20 years? You should, too. It just makes perfect sense: you have a reader, subscribe to your favorite internet sources, and it's all there. In one place. All the shit that you love to read every day. Some readers even let you subscribe to newsletters, subreddits, twitter (🤮), etc. Back in the day, Google Reader was the shit for RSS. It was very cool because a) you could read all your stuff in one place, and b) it had a social feature where you could share the neat stuff you would find on the Internet with your friends. It was dope. But why would you have something cool that relies on an open protocol on the internet when you can have shit instead? Why have open syndication when you can drag everyone into a garbage platform and suck the soul out of everything? Because open, syndicated, federated things do not generate profit for Silicon Valley (🤮) VCs. They want to drag you over whatever they're doing, lock you in, turn everything to shit, and toss out the keys. This process is what Cory Doctorow calls “enshittification.” All those platforms have gone through (or are undergoing) this process: Facebook. Amazon. Twitter. Uber. Netflix. You name it. Uber is the quintessential example: It went like “Hey, taxis suck, eh? They're dirty, unreliable, and expensive. Let us dIsRuPt it!” Nice black cars, cheap fares, a true dream. Then, they ran out of VC money, and needed to provide some return on the investment. Eshittification ensued: Now Uber rides are just as dirty, unreliable, and expensive as the thing they were supposed to replace, with a kicker: if you were a taxi driver before Uber, you were making more money than you are right now as an Uber driver. It was wealth redistribution, just the wrong way.

Right, back to RSS. For the longest time, the closest thing to a Google Reader replacement was Feedly (I won't link here because fuck those guys). It kinda did all the things Google Reader did, with the exception of the social features. Win some, lose some. I was a paying customer for years, and was mostly happy with the product. Until they decided to do a pivot so fucking weird that I don't even know how to explain it. They are trying to become a... threat intel platform? But not quite because they don't really aggregate and/or curate the info that proper threat intel platforms provide. They started pushing their enterprise offering, and AI (🤮) “assistant” really hard, and that caused a bunch of individual customers like me to feel very alienated: this was no longer an RSS reader for the individual user: it was a threat intel platform wannabe. I was very clearly not the target demographic for this product, but, hey... Already paid for a whole year of this thing, and it mostly does what I need it to do. And, then.... they tell their users (again, people who wanted a fucking RSS reader) that they now have a new offering: A way to, and I quote, “track the protests posing a risk to your company's assets with Feedly AI.” What? Is this Crisis 24 now? I just want to read my shit without having to go to 183 different websites every day, but I am being offered something to “help security analysts track riots, strikes, and rallies that pose a risk to a company’s assets and employees.” Molly White called it “strikebreaking as a service”, which I like.

And that's the thing: Feedly was never ever going to be satisfied with being a good RSS reader. Just like every other Bay Area creature, it needs to grow infinitely. This, of course, is not possible, but they are surely going to try anyway. So, here we are. The thing that was useful turned to shit because VCs wanted 100 instead of 90. The good news is that Feedbin is right there, and they're not tracking riots (so far). Needless to say, I’ve canceled my Feedly subscription that was still good for a few months, and deleted my account. Fuck that noise.

Song of the week(?)

You have to pronounce Tanukichan the same way Sanji says “Robin-CHUAN”, though.

Apropos of that, a reader that shall remain anonymous proposed the creation of a Spraw Club playlist. I shall oblige soon.

Reading this:

Once again, we’re deep into Kim Stanley Robinson. MftF is good for those who, like me, are both radicalized and suffering from climate anxiety.

P.S. Still on Mastodon