Set my photos free

Breaking down the silo walls

I've moaned publicly and to anyone who'll listen about how much I hate the way Instagram now shows me photos from the people I follow. Hating's not enough, though. You have to do something about it.

What I did about it was to stop using Instagram. I'm just not interested in wading through the adverts and trying to sort out the order in which I should be seeing things. A vague memory lurked in the back of my mind that it was possible to get an RSS feed out of Instagram, so I asked my chums in the indieweb community to refresh that memory, and they came back instantly with Instagram Atom feeds.

So I decided to do something different.

Ryan Barrett (better known, in some quarters, as snarfed) has created a bunch of really useful indieweb tools, and Atom feeds is one. Don't ask me (in detail), how it works. All I know is that if you follow the very clear instructions,1 you end up with an RSS link which, if you paste it into a decent feed reader, displays all the photos from the people you follow, in chronological order, with no adverts.2 I call that a win.

Of course this rig is fragile. All it takes is a minor tweak at the Instagram end to break everything. But snarfed is amazingly good at keeping his tools sharp. And there's a teeny bit of friction for me, because to like a friend's photo, or comment on it, I actually have to click on the link the feed reader provides and go to the image at But hey, it's my friction, and I'm OK with self-inflicted friction.

As I'm having to do all this on a "real" computer, as opposed to the iDevice, why not just go to my page at Instagram? That doesn't show ads, although it does mess with the timeline. I dunno. This just seems neater.

  1. Pro-tip 1: do not try and get the session-id cookie out of Safari, use Chrome instead. 

  2. Pro-tip 2: Safari will let you down here too, because if you want to use the RSS feed as a shared link or whatever they call it, it takes for ever to download each picture and you can't just skim through them. Feed readers is a whole 'nuther question

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