Mesh Notes (RSS)

May 17th, 2006
[ General ]

One presenter at Mesh proudly stated they have over 700 RSS feeds they watch. Do they read them all? No, do they skim them all? Sure, and if you don’t get their attention with your title or first sentence, well you’ve lost them. I say great. I hope to lose skimmers with my writing. Maybe I’ll add a mandatory fluff sentence at the beginning of any story in order to filter out the fluffers.

RSS is doing to writing and books what mp3’s and digital downloads have done to music and the album format. People feel like they’re reading without actually having to read. It’s destroying people’s ability to patiently sit down with a book and read it from cover to cover. That is reading, and reading a book is an entirely different act than reading blog posts. It’s not the same thing to skim the titles of 349 RSS feeds.

Do I use an RSS reader? Yes. Do I publish RSS feeds? Yes. RSS is a useful and effective tool. I spend more time these days, however, trying to remove feeds from my RSS reader than add. I’m trying to strive for less not more, and if I do add a new feed then I remove at least one feed I’m currently subscribed to.

Skimming RSS feeds and marking them “read” is not reading but sometimes I find myself mistaking it for that. I get sucked in and have to cleanse myself with a good book. It’s exciting to have access to all these sources of opinions and information. The problem when I get sucked in is that I find myself becoming an aggregator of opinions. I like, or don’t like, something not because I’ve experienced it, or have in depth understanding, but because I’ve skimmed other people’s opinions of it. I fear that RSS and it’s ilk will leave me without my ability to acquire that deeper level of understanding on my own.

Or not, time to find a new feed….