Quitting RSS

Google Reader I love you, but you're bringing me down.

Background

RSS, for those who don't know, stands for either Rich Site Summary or Really Simple Syndication. Generally, it is simply a list of information. RSS is great when you want to know about updates without loading up a website to check - the updates come to you.

I've been using RSS for years, I love it. I can know what's being published across dozens of websites, having all of the latest information aggregated in a single place within my RSS reader. All of the news I care about, none of the searching.

Problem

What's my problem with RSS? Information overload. I've had enough of that. RSS works amazingly well, but I find myself compulsively checking updates and reading every article just to get that magical 0 unread articles message before I can get back to work.

Solution

What is my solution? I don't know yet, but I have a few ideas, chief among them are twitter and smarter services such as IF This Then That.

Most sites offer up a twitter feed, which is identical to the RSS feed. This might be a good option for some news sites as I will see most of the news without the unread articles issue. I may miss something, but I'm okay with that. I think the real hurdle with moving all news into twitter is that it would likely lower the signal vs noise ratio. I.e. more stuff on twitter that I'm not interested in.

ifttt has a feed channel, so I could create a feed recipe to email be things I might be interested in, like new Questionable Content comics.

Jumping in

Okay, step one is to stop using RSS and see what I miss.

  1. Open Google Reader
  2. Unsubscribe from all RSS feeds
  3. Suppress the anxiety of not knowing

Half a week into my rss-less life. I have started tuning into the local FM radio station on my drive to and from work.

I have also been launching Twitter more often to skim through the latest updates. Replacing one bad habit with another is not what I wanted so I will have to keep monitoring this, though if I am browsing Twitter on my phone I am much less likely to get stuck down a rabbit hole.