Apr 3, 2008

5 Reasons Why I Don’t Use An RSS Feed

While I’ve signed up for and installed a number of RSS feeds, I’ve never actually used any of them.

Not because they’re bad or evil or dumb or anything. It’s just that they don’t fit into the way I like to consume media. Here’s 5 reasons why:

1. At some level, an RSS feed feels like you’ve ripped out articles from my favorite magazines and newspapers and stapled them all together. And that’s just disconcerting. I like to visit each site individually and experience the site as a whole, graphics and all. Sometimes I wind up re-reading something I’d skimmed over the first time. Or maybe I read all the comments on an article I’d read before there were comments.

2. Different sites fit my mood at different times. It could be time of day, level of stress, degree of boredom. But like offline media, I get different types of satisfaction from different blogs and so I like to visit them when I choose.

3. Some blogs are daily reads, others weekly. It’s nothing to do with the number of posts as much as with relevance. Blogs that have short news blips are easily read every day. Sites with longer thought pieces are often best read on weekends or evenings when I have time. And RSS feed gives them all the same sense of urgency.

4. RSS reminds me of how much I’m missing. I don’t like to be constantly confronted with all the new posts I haven’t read yet—particularly on busy days. And with no RSS, I’m not. It reminds me of when I had a New Yorker subscription and every week there'd be an article I hadn't read and so I'd save the issue next to my bed until I had a stack about 3 feet high and constant guilt for not getting to them.

5. My Twitter pals provide me with a constant stream of links throughout the day. Most of which I manage to at least skim. Right now, it’s a smaller stream than RSS, and if I’m not on Twitter for a few hours, the tweets are so far down the line I just don’t see them and there’s no sense of having missed anything. A far less stressful way to view things with the added benefit of having personal recommendations for the links from people I trust.

Again, I’m not saying that RSS isn’t a useful thing- for most people I’m sure it is. Just explaining why I don’t use it.

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