In the ultimate irony, as the last story I'm sharing tonight before going to bed.... I offer you an article on the problem of RSS feeds. I'm doing this after clearing out my own personal RSS backlog which peaked recently at around 700 articles.... I saved this article for last.
I love RSS and I love Google Reader and I'm not sure I agree with the author, but I can agree that RSS can become a problem. Lately I've been deploying Yahoo Pipes to filter feeds for me to select just the articles I want (Previously I was manually scanning updates and marking all but select articles as read and just reading the key ones), but in spite of this.... I was way behind on things I actually wanted to read and share.
I titled this article "TiVo for the Internet" because that's how I really feel about RSS (I've been saying this for years so if you know me personally you may have heard this rant before).... before I had TiVo, there were shows that I "had" to watch (meaning I would watch every episode unless some higher priority life event came up.. .and ins one cases maybe I would record the show that conflicted with the real world... but more often then not... I would just miss it). Then there was the vast majority of shows that I watched.... clearly I liked them (otherwise I wouldn't have watched), but if I missed them... I missed them. No big deal.
Then I got TiVo.
Now I don't miss anything. My TiVo records any and every show that I like whether or not they are a priority. That means I never have to miss anything. And I don't. It's a blessing and a curse. I find myself now reluctant to start watching a new show, because once I start watching... I feel committed to watch each and every episode until the series goes off the air. My "season pass list" often has at least 40 (and typically more like 60) different programs its seeking out.
I'm not proud of this.
Using an RSS feed/reader for me is similar. Before RSS I would check slashdot.org (and a half-dozen other sites) a few times a day (or maybe just once a day) and read whatever I found... but if I was offline for a few days... it wasn't that big of a deal. Now that I have RSS... I don't miss those articles... they sit and pile up... and the more that's there... the more pressure I feel to clear the backlog.
I supposed this is the "Hi, My name is Alan and I have a problem" moment.
That said, I really have no desire to change either of these habits. Maybe that's just sad. However, I've been focusing on the negative above. The reality is... I spend less time filtering out garbage because I only record/subscribe to shows and/or sites that interest me where before I was randomly surfing and wasting time searching for content I cared about. Also, marking articles as read doesn't take much time at all. In the case of TiVo.. there's nearly always something I want to watch ready at the click of a button.
Anyway... It's an interesting perspective and I'm not even going to suggest that the author is wrong, but at the same time... I love RSS and I don't plan to stop.
Why keeping up with RSS is poisonous to productivity, sanity
On the surface, RSS seems great for those of us who want to keep up on everything happening on the Internet—and I mean everything. As for me, I use RSS regularly at five minute intervals for pretty much the entire time I'm awake. I use RSS for both work and personal reasons—it helps me keep tabs on practically every tech site that matters in order to ensure that I'm never missing anything, plus it lets me make sure I'm on top of my friends' and families' lives via their blogs. If not for RSS, I could never keep up on anything. Or would I?
Read more at arstechnica.com
Dare I say it, but the quality of my life and work improved when I went without RSS. And I think it might for you, too.