Linux For Poets

Open Source Nerding and Pondering

A Small Step Toward De-Googling: RSS YouTube Subscriptions

I really like YouTube videos. They are wonderful, and I can keep up with my favorite nerd people, philosophizing, news, etc. There are other video web sites out there, I know, but a lot of good content is on YouTube. That probably won’t be the case forever, because everything changes, and everything changes thrice as fast on the internet.

We know the Google tracks mad amounts of data about all its users. That’s not new news. We know this, we don’t like it, but we still use Google services. Because it’s convenient, and other people we know aren’t worried. It’s easier to look the other way. So there isn’t yet enough public pressure on companies to be respectful of their customers’ rights. The technology moves fast, and it takes time for peoples’ awareness and education to catch up. And one feels powerless in the face of such complicated stuff run by huge companies that make harvesting your private details for profit look so polite and upstanding and stylish. It’s easy to go with the crowd, it’s hard, unfashionable, and confusing to go against it.

One day I expect we’ll get there, but it’ll take a while. It requires educating people and providing usable alternatives for the non-programmers among us. It should not be only programmers and technophiles who can have moderate (not absolute – nothing on the internet is guaranteed) privacy. And I don’t think our non-tech-savvy grandmas should be any less safe than your local nerd.

Anyway. To the point: I have a collection of YouTube people I like to listen to, so I’ve subscribed to them. Heck, I have my own YouTube channel for my silk painting, and I appreciate it when people subscribe to me. But I figure Google has enough info about me, and I don’t want it to track every search I enter into it and associate that data with my Google account.

So I found out how to enter YouTube channels into an RSS reader. It shows up as a new thing when a new video is posted, and it doesn’t distract me quite so badly with all the recommended videos, based on whatever creepy algorithm they use. That’s where they get you – I know they use a creepy algorithm that might be engineered to influence my mindset, but I still click on the recommended videos some times. I’m not proud! I know they do it, but I’m still compelled to click stuff, because it’s engineered to be compelling. Creepy, like I said. So I am clearing out these distractions where I can.

I found this method on a beautiful web site by Daniel Miessler:

I use Quite RSS reader on Linux, but there are lots of RSS readers, use whatever you dig.

This does require looking at the page’s source code, because it’s not the way Google wants you to do things. A little tedious if you do a bunch in a row like I did, but not hard.

Then add a new feed to your groovy RSS reader, and copy that whole URL link into place. Success!So this gives you the latest videos from the channels you like without having to log into a Google account. Also, as you find other streams of content you can add that right in, so it all cohabitates nicely. I dislike being tied to only one source of content, and to having all my content choices stored on one server under one company. It’s great from the perspective of a company who wants it to be convenient to lock people into their infrastructure, and Google is very very good at that. But that’s not good for actual individuals.That’s all for now. I’d love to hear how you all handle these things.

Next up: a desktop YouTube video player. I am intrigued by SMTube. But not done researching.