My New Rule for RSS

A couple of months ago, I realized that I spent way too many spare moments in front of my computer screen, trying to get my Google Reader unread count to zero.

Then, I realized that when I did get to it to zero, I got agitated. I had beaten the game, killed the end-boss, and now I wanted to play again.

So I was bothered when it wasn’t zero, and I was bothered when it was zero, and this wasn’t good.

So I declared bankruptcy and started over on the whole thing, unsubscribing from everything. (After carefully backing it up of course. Every feed is sacred, or something like that.)

I added back the blogs of a few close friends, and instead of the 20 or so music blogs subscribed to one good aggregator. I debated resubscribing to some of the big tech blogs, but I figured my daily visit(s) to Hacker News and simply talking with my friends and coworkers would get the important stuff in front of me.

So now that I’m slowly adding back blogs I truly find useful and give me more than they take (in time, in attention), I stumbled across a good rule for my RSS reader: if I have to start adding tags or folders to keep my feeds organized, I have too many.

I just added a new RSS feed and started to tag it, you know, to keep my addiction organized. I then stepped back and realized that the reason I was tagging it was so that I wouldn’t feel crushed by seeing so many unread blogs in my reader.

These folders masked the issue. It was similar to what a kid does when he doesn’t want to finish his vegetables so he spread them around on his plate to make it look like he ate more than he actually did.

So since I’ve declared bankruptcy on my RSS reader and did the major housecleaning, I feel calmer when I’m front of my computer, and less like I need to keep hitting the lever for the next fix.