Everyone has to stay on top of things somehow; each person just decides what things” they need to stay on top of and how to do it. With my relatively recent decisions (plural for multiple platforms) to forgo social media, News is one such item that I need to stay on top of and I have a clean slate on how to go about doing so.

Of course, clean slate is a misrepresentation. I have a history with technology, having been in the business for over a decade and having been using technology in one form or another since my childhood. And since technology is the way I have chosen to get my news since high school, I started out with more of a return to form; I went back to RSS as a means of keeping up on current events.

Using a sync service, in my case Feedly (because apparently there is only one real option for local RSS reading with iCloud sync and no thanks), I jumped back in with an old OPML file full of tech, food, and coffee blogs. Next, I started looking for a feed reader that syncs with Feedly (they all do) that was not the first-party Feedly client.

Side note: first-party clients are not always bad. Third-party clients, however, need to work to make a reason for their existence. There is a reason why the existence of any third-party Twitter clients scares Twitter; their priorities are different and, for that reason, they are just plain better. Third-party clients are able to focus on making their customer—the consumer—happy with a focus on the features that make for a better app, while first-party clients, especially for free services, focus instead on making their customer—ad agencies—happy with greased wheels between their products and the end-user. 🤢

All in all, I tried a couple different clients out and quickly found Fiery Feeds, an app that mirrors a long time favorite of mine on macOS, Readkit. I see the similarities in a variety of ways not limited to its focus on an intuitive, well-designed interface and its ability to act as a reader for many read-later services as well. Fiery Feeds is well maintained, has both iPad and iPhone apps that just work and has a low-cost subscription-based business model that will allow the developer to continue to work on it hopefully for years to come. (If all of this sounds familiar to you, it should; the best apps in the App Store have basically the same modus operandi, including Drafts, Overcast, etc.)

All this to say, RSS is still an open platform that anyone can build on top of and use, which is definitely something that I have chosen to prioritize in my move away from proprietary technologies, especially in the social media and news aggregation spaces. It works and it will continue to work even if any/all of the above commentary is rendered obsolete in a matter of years.

In a separate commentary, I will need to discuss the current landscape of read-later services and why I am displeased with that as well, but I thought I would try to stay focused on RSS this time around. However, whether I am talking about RSS or read-later services, the following stands: if only someone would figure out how to make an app that looks nice, works just as well as Fiery Feeds in every other way, and syncs via iCloud instead of a third-party service, we’d be golden.

Read, Think, Share, Repeat

The Challenges of 2020

TL;DR: Follow this link.

One of the craziest things about Christianity during the protests of the last few weeks is the fact that there are churches out there not discussing the issues honestly, not taking the time to have the hard conversations, not devoting their Sunday services to betterment of the world and people around them. If you’re church isn’t talking about racism right now, if they don’t mention that black lives matter, instead focusing on platitudes that equate to the all lives matter” sentiment, it is time to start looking for a new church.

My wife and I meet with my home” church virtually via Zoom since the pandemic is still a thing. Kimball Avenue United Church of Christ & La Iglesia Episcopal de Nuestra Señora de las Américas (KANSA, together) combined in a collaborative way to create a single denomination focused on the needs of their community. They follow Christ together toward the vision of love, reconciliation, peace and justice. The justice looks like the demolition and rehabilitation of an old church building and its grounds into a community garden and labyrinth open to all who seek peace through contemplation.

I give this elevator speech to mention that COVID has not been kind to faith communities in general. Budgets have been slashed, funding and grants have been cut, and congregations in need are also working to serve those in need, who are less likely to be able to financially support their church in these times. KANSA in one of the good ones. They speak truth, they have the difficult conversations, they preach in a loud voice every Sunday that black lives matter, that racism has no place in the church, that the LGBTQ community deserves respect and support, and that Jesus was a social justice warrior, who fought for the least of these no matter who they were, where they were from, what they looked like.

In fact, Jesus was most harsh to those who had the means to help and decided not to answer the call.

These systems of oppression we are protesting have been around a long time; they have screwed up a lot of lives, they have been the reason for revolution and the downfall of entire civilizations, they don’t work. We need to find a better way to live by supporting each other. And support has to come in systemic, social, financial, and political ways, both national and local.

I am not local to KANSA anymore, but I support their mission, the way that mission manifests in the world, and the simple fact that they follow Jesus no matter how ostracizing that position can be at times. Which brings me to the point:

Thanks to a $10,000 matching gift’ from an anonymous donor, the challenge has become an opportunity. Over the next two months, we plan to raise at least $10,000 to meet the challenge. Through August 31, 2020, every donation we receive toward our 2020 Challenge” no matter how small or how large will be doubled by the matching gift.

KANSA is hurting financially and needs support, they do good work and are unabashedly progressive in their approach to our world. Donate now and see your contribution matched to keep one of the good ones fighting the good fight.

Thank you for your consideration.