Have you ever wondered why many publishers of scientific information don’t provide RSS feeds? I know I have.
I rarely rant on this site, but here’s one about a good old time dinosaur publisher, Cambridge University Press, with a little nudge for publishers and bloggers to respect their readers’ time by providing RSS feeds for their content.
In September 2016, CUP reorganized its online content and discontinued its RSS feed. Here is a quote from their website:
Cambridge Core does not support RSS feeds. To stay up to date with the latest content from Cambridge, sign up for journal table of contents alerts or our Librarian Alerts.
If you currently use RSS feeds to display a listing of Cambridge content on your own website, please get in touch with us to arrange an alternative method.
They might as well have said: “We can’t be bothered to respect your time. We know academics aren’t very busy and don’t have much to read. But please do try to stay abreast of our publications.”
In a further irony, the author of Deep Work, Cal Newport, who advises us to minimize our use of email, doesn’t provide a RSS feed for his blog. Of course, I can’t email Newport directly for he says, in Deep Work, that he makes it difficult for people to reach him. So, I emailed his representative in July suggesting that he add a RSS feed. I never received a response.
To get to the irony: while Newport still doesn’t provide an RSS feed for his readers, he does provide another way for his readers to stay on top of his blog:
GET THE LATEST FROM THE
STUDY HACKS BLOG
IN YOUR INBOX
YOU’LL RECEIVE THE BLOG POSTS VIA EMAIL. YOUR EMAIL ADDRESS IS NEVER SOLD OR SHARED.
!! But Cal, is this really an efficient way for me to process information? Is that really favourable to deep work? Would it truly be efficient for me to poll your blog through a web browser? Who really benefits from these modes of information transmission?
Bloggers: please provide RSS feeds, and an easily accessible archive of your articles (by title). Compare the CogZest archive.
Here’s a recommendation for my readers: surf information sources indirectly, via RSS feeds, because it is much more efficient that way. You won’t need to scroll through as much drivel. You won’t have to adjust your mind to each site’s unique way of organizing information. You are less likely to be distracted by clickbait on the site.
My first book contained tips for “surfing”. My next book, Cognitive Productivity with MacOS®: 7 Principles for Getting Smarter with Knowledge, has a chapter on using RSS feeds, feed aggregators (like Feedly), feed reading apps (like Reeder and Readkit), and bookmarking apps (like Instapaper and Pocket). It even suggests ways of using them together.
2 thoughts on “Cambridge University Press Pulled its RSS Feeds — Bloggers and Publishers, Please Help Your Readers”
RSS feeds are the only practical way to stay up to date with the hundreds of software, security, and other industry blogs I read. Visiting each of these sites every day and trying to remember what I’ve seen before would be prohibitively time-consuming.
RSS feeds allow me to consume all news in one stream, like a custom newspaper. When I run my reader (I use Feedly), it starts where I left off last time, and I’m therefore much less likely to miss anything.
Which is why it’s infuriating when web sites don’t support RSS (thankfully there are few of these). Some sites have RSS feeds that are hopelessly broken, like the SANS InfoSec Handlers’ Diary (https://isc.sans.edu/diary/). I’ve been leaning on SANS to fix their feed for literally years.
And then there are software announcement blogs that are updated inconsistently, like Mozilla’s Firefox blog (https://blog.mozilla.org/blog/category/firefox/). For some inexplicable reason, Mozilla now only announces SOME new versions here.
Of course the reason many sites don’t like RSS is that the owners are less likely to see any advertising income for RSS reader visits.