Tue Jan 13 2009

Stop using your RSS reader

Seriously, give it a try. I’m going on a limb and risk saying you won’t regret it. In fact, if you are on places like Twitter, chances are that you are just as informed as your RSS-powered buddies. Before you label me as a nutcase (and hypocritical at that, because I am publishing several feeds myself), allow me to explain.##Drinking from the fire-hose

RSS was fine for a few years. It was manageable because there weren’t that many blogs you were interested in reading. Those things pile up, though. Suddenly you get unread-item anxiety because you see the red notification saying “5000 unread items” and you think “sh*t”. And you go at it, reading all you can read, like a buffet of information. Is this story ringing any bells?

Me, I’ve declared feed bankruptcy. Over 1000+ items are produced in the blogs I subscribe to a day. Unsubscribing a bunch didn’t really help. Also, most of the things I was reading in the feed reader that caught my eye were either featured on Techmeme (which I still have as my homepage on Firefox) or Hackernews. Those that didn’t get to any of these two, would come to me via Twitter. So I just stopped opening the reader. Now I don’t even have one installed and to be honest, I don’t miss it one bit.

Things come to you

We’re living in a pubsub world. I have people I subscribe to on Twitter, and there’s people who subscribe to me. This creates a conversation channel that removes the need for RSS. The conversation becomes the news mediator. Yesterday I heard about Joshua Schachter’s move to Google through Twitter before it was on Techcrunch. Today, I knew about the new Yahoo CEO before it was “all over Techmeme”. Because I subscribe to people whose interests are similar to my own, I hear about things as they happen.

Some might argue that Twitter is more attention-intensive than an RSS feed reader is, but I would disagree. While the feed reader gives you anxiety because you know something is piling up for you to read (much like email), Twitter is a river of news/updates (hat tip to Dave Winer) you can just choose to pay attention to whenever you have time for it. It’s not perfect, but it’s definitely closer.

So in conclusion: take my word for it even if only for a few days. Go reader-less for a while and see how much of a difference it makes. Chances are you’re going to be both okay and with a lot more free time to do great work.

Photo credit: Wizardhat on Flickr.