Lately I find myself defending the continued relevance of now seemingly old-fashioned technology. For instance, last week I wrote a blog post insisting that, contrary to recent sentiment, email works just fine. Now I find myself compelled to respond to a post from Marco Arment from a few days ago in which he criticizes heavy use of RSS:
“If you’re subscribing to any feeds that post more than about ten items per day, you’re probably misusing it. I don’t mean that you’re using it in a way it wasn’t intended — rather, you’re using it in a way that’s not good for you…You should be able to go on a disconnected vacation for three days, come back, and be able to skim most of your RSS-item titles reasonably without just giving up and marking all as read. You shouldn’t come back to hundreds or thousands of unread articles.”
In fact, what he advises against is exactly the way I use RSS. I subscribe to several blogs and sites that post at least a dozen items per day. Last weekend I got away for one last, glorious summer getaway at the beach, and when I came back to Google Reader, I was about two hundred updates behind — in my main bucket of feeds. I have several other buckets that are thousands of posts behind. This happens to me all the time, even when I disconnect for a regular, two-day weekend.
Though I try to keep up with my main bucket of feeds, if I fall hundreds or thousands of updates behind, I just don’t worry about it. Sometimes I do mark all as read, and sometimes I just let it run unchecked. I dip in and out without feeling any serious obligation to keep up.
Basically, I disagree with Marco’s conclusion that “RSS is best for following a large number of infrequently updated sites.” I quite enjoy having tons of profligate feeds in Google Reader. Doing so lets me occasionally graze through content streams that I would otherwise never remember to return to in my Web browser. It works great for me, and I don’t feel like I’m doing it wrong or that it’s bad for me at all.
Anyway, Marco is a friend and a smart guy, so be sure to read his full post before jumping to conclusions.
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