Fri 08 Apr
One thing that I’ve learned is that if I open up NetNewsWire when I get to the office in the morning, my day is shot. I mean, I’ll get my work done, but rather than working for long stretches of uninterrupted productivity, my time is fragmented by countless little diversions to other people’s weblogs. An RSS aggregator is like a Pandora’s box of distractions, and it’s difficult to resist when facing those not-so-fun tasks that populate a work day. Very often though, I have little choice but to hunker down if I want to get out of the office before midnight, so I make a conscious effort to avoid firing up NetNewsWire at all.
Which leaves me feeling perpetually behind on my weblog reading. Not only am I missing out on the latest postings and developments with the many good friends I’ve made online — prompting feelings of guilt over not being a sufficiently faithful reader of their weblogs whenever I chat with them — but I’m missing out on lots of genuinely great content that’s constantly being generated in the blogosphere. Two or three times a week, I’ll find an evening hour to try and catch up with all of my RSS feeds; it’s exhausting and it always leaves me with a nagging feeling that I might have better spent that time doing some actual design work.
RSS, while a wonderful development, takes a lot of energy, at least in my view; the consumption of feeds is work. The format’s convenience puts an even greater pressure on readers to keep up with ever more weblogs, and it creates, at least in me, a personal expectation to maintain an awareness that’s commensurate with the energy invested in reading feeds. That is, the more I read, the more I expect to be aware of what’s going on, what new technological developments are taking place, what new online tools are being developed, and what memes are gaining currency. And every time I realize that I’ve been blithely unaware of a particular turn of events until long past its freshness date, it fuels a compulsion to be even more vigilant in my reading, to spend even more time with my aggregator. It’s a vicious cycle.
Between my duties at Behavior, this weblog and my personal life, time is a luxury, as it is for many people — but not everyone. It always amazes me how much time people can spend generally being aware of everything that’s going on in the blogosphere, how much time they can spend reading and replying to long comment threads. Which boils all of this rambling down to a few simple questions, really: how the heck do people find time to keep up with this stuff? When, exactly, are people reading their feeds? Are they reading and commenting progressively, during the course of a day, as their aggregators alert them to new posts? Once each in the morning, noon and night? In marathon sessions every few days or once a week? Really, somebody please school me.