Hey Creators, Please Make Firehoses!
Most people’s websites have turned into launching pads that send me to a ton of other services: Twitter, GitHub, Instagram, Medium, Substack, Mastodon, etc. But this isn’t a great experience for readers. Wouldn’t it be great if we could pull everything together into a single page and RSS feed? It turns out that’s pretty easy and I hope more creators do this, because I want to see all of your content in one place, not have to hunt across 6 different services.
Also it opens up cool things like storing your content in your own database, searching across all your content from a single search, and filtered RSS feeds (imagine being able to follow everything someone is doing but blocking certain words). So we should all do more of this!
1. Today’s standard personal website
This approach causes some issues for people trying to visit your website, especially if they’re interested in being a fan of yours:
- Instead of one location, you’re making people silo-jump across many
- Some of those silos make people log in
- There’s no unified search or filter
- There’s no notification mechanism to keep people up-to-date
And it also causes issues for the authors of these sites as well:
- All your data is siloed
- You can’t easily export or search for your own data
2. The super simple approach I am proposing
There’s nothing particularly groundbreaking about the Firehose concept. You just need software that:
- Takes a lot of your own RSS feeds
- Combines them into a single personal RSS feed
- Then makes a single page of content on a website
- (Optional: store everything in your own database, add search, go nuts)
Once you write this software, the experience becomes a single place to find everything someone is up to:
3. Handling information overload
This approach is called a “firehose” for a reason. It can be a lot of information all at once, especially if hooked up to social media, which is why this concept works best with a few key features:
- Custom links
For example, let’s say you follow a woodworker who posts amazing instructional videos on YouTube and charming essays on Blogger.com, but his social media feed is hit or miss because he talks half the time about art and the other half the time talking about the Yankees and politics. Wouldn’t it be nice to have a setting like this?
Then you could make a custom RSS feed out of this. Wouldn’t that be awesome? The world is noisy, we need more filtering tools like this.
4. Finding needles in a haystack
Filtering is only half the story. It’s also too hard to find or re-find content. If you remember Bob the Woodworker often has good advice about canoes, you can attempt to struggle with Twitter’s search, then Instagram’s search, then Blogger’s search, then combine all the results. Sounds tiring.
Or you could have a feature like this that searches across all the sites and presents a single interface. Wouldn’t this be nice?
Calling all developers and builders
Let’s build more of this! Creators want it, viewers want it, and yet I can’t find many examples of this sort of thing existing yet. That’s where you come in. We need more!
I’ve written my own hacky React implementation that you can look at on GitHub to get you rolling, but be warned, I didn’t write any documentation yet. You can see how it looks over at firehose.lot23.com .
If you like this idea, please take a look at all the great discussion happening over here around identity and feed aggregation. There are a lot of people thinking about this sort of thing, and we’d love your help.
Let’s make some firehoses!