It started as such an innocent tool. In my love of Gmail, I stumbled upon the powerful Google Reader (reader.google.com) and begin to fill it with RSS feeds from my favorite Web destinations. Instantly, my reader became the fastest way to skim through the gaming blogs, tech news and business musings of the talking heads of Internet.
I’d say I had a good six weeks or so where the RSS feeds made me more productive. I didn’t have to surf the Internet because I had it delivered to me–right there within Google’s little window. As I sorted through my feeds–keyboard shortcuts and all–I would star posts that were noteworthy or that I wanted to blog. I could also send posts to friends that I found helpful and pass along funny quotes.
The sinister force that was the RSS master emerged when I started to expand my tastes. I would stumble upon a particular site or one post from a blog and find it interesting, and there it went into my reader. After awhile, I had to go in and reorganize my feeds. I had too many loose, uncategorized ones, but after a quick shuffle, my RSS heaven was back to the organized filing system I had created.
One weekend, somehow in my techy ignorance I left the computer. That’s right. For 48 hours, I stepped away from the digital world. When I returned to it Monday morning, the Gremlins had owned my system.
My unread posts counter read (1000+). Uh oh.
For the next three weeks, I tried to catch back up and manage, but for the non-Scoble, you just can’t handle following that many bloggers. In fact, you never get a chance to blog a post yourself if you spend your entire day reading what 100+ others have said in the last day.
I was a slave to the RSS reader everyday. I loathed leaving it with 100+ unread posts. I was becoming a Google addict. It became an impossible task, so I had to step out and selectively nuke my system.
I devised a way of removing blogs that no longer needed to be followed. If it updated too frequently with information that I didn’t cherish everyday, it was gone. If two blogs covered similar topics, I made myself choose the one that covered the topic more completely or that was more worthwhile for me to read as a fellow blogger. If given the choice between a blog that posted 30 times a day, and one that posted once or twice a week with the same basic info, I went with the less frequent, more complete option.
I went simple. I became ignorant to what 50+ or so bloggers were writing about, but I got my life back–my life outside of RSS. It was entirely necessary, and I tell you now: Ignorance is bliss.
You can’t follow 1000+ blogs and still exist outside of the online world. Keep that in mind before you start getting crazy with the RSS subscribe button.