The demerits of RSS

Is RSS going mainstream?

I’ve had my RA set up this technology for me but I still don’t appreciate it or even use it.  First, I like the look of individual blog pages.  More importantly, reading blogs for me is a matter of mood.  Right now I feel like reading, say Jacqueline Passey rather than EconBrowser, or vice versa, and I don’t want all the new posts thrust in front of my nose at the same time.  I also fear that ongoing use of RSS would lead to reading inflation; I would add new blogs to my feed because it is easy to do so, but encounter the intransitivity of indifference.  I would end up overloaded.

My current reading method "by hand" takes more time, but hey reading blogs is fun and it should stay fun at the margin.  Who wants to be satiated in liquidity?  My current method also brings more discipline.  Do you all have thoughts on this matter?

Comments

RSS + Bloglines is just a good way to organize the blogs I visit, and makes it less tedious than scrolling through hundreds of bookmarks. Plus, not every new blog post on every blog is worth reading. RSS allows you to quickly filter out the uninteresting so you can get to the interesting.

Set your RA to show headlines only and, here's the difficult part, LEARN TO EDIT RUTHLESSLY.
I follow far to many blogs and news services to check each individually; Google Reader lets me do it automatically.
I routinely open it up to 100+ posts. Of those I actually open 15% to 20% to read a few lines more, still in my RA. Of those, I only go to the posters Blog and read the entire post, half the time. Another 10% goes into my "interesting and worth further research" file,and even at that it gets out of hand.
Total time, less than an hour.
Keeping up with the flow of information on the internet is impossible. My RA is the only thing that keeps me resonably current.

I use Google Reader to keep up with this blog and several others. More importantly, it allows me to skim headlines for work-related news so I can keep up with the software development industry. If I want to read this blog alone I can just click on the MR feed and I'm good to go. No loaded images, extremely streamlined... it works for me.

When I first heard someone describe the concept of a blog reader to me, back in 02, I was deeply skeptical, for exactly the reasons you outlined.

However, having used Bloglines for 2+ years now, I would hate to go back.

1) You can organize your feeds into conceptual groups, and only read the groups that are interesting at a given time.
2) You will experience feed inflation, but because the process is far more efficient, it cancels out.

You don't believe me on #2. Well, those two seconds that you load each feed - how many feeds do you have? 30? So that's 1 minute. I can tell you exactly which feeds have new stuff and which ones don't in that first 2 seconds. I can quickly skim the headers and find out which ones are interesting over the rest of the minute. So by the time it takes you just to load each of the pages, I've already found all the interesting posts, and using firefox, opened each of them up in new tabs for me to look at later.

One thought only: I wouldn't have read this post if it wasn't for RSS.
Having a 100+ blogs in Bloglines allows me to follow what's going on in many unrelated subjects, something that would be impossible by hand. Which doesn't mean there aren't a couple quality posts per day that get all my attention!

One thought only: I wouldn't have read this post if it wasn't for RSS.
Having a 100+ blogs in Bloglines allows me to follow what's going on in many unrelated subjects, something that would be impossible by hand. Which doesn't mean there aren't a couple quality posts per day that get all my attention!

Why would anyone want to read Jacqueline Passey, for any reason, in any form?

A blog reader (Google Reader) has two big benefits for me:

Aggregation - I regularly use three different computers. Maintaining bookmarks across three computers would be awful.

Notification - RSS is most useful for keeping track of sites that are not blogs. I do read MR in my blog reader, but there's not a big difference between doing that and visiting the site itself. However, I keep track of articles on other sites that aren't blogs (i.e., sites that aren't updated every day). The reader tells me when there is new content, so I don't have to keep checking.

Filtering can also be handy. If you are interested in certain aspects of a blog/site, but not others, readers can filter out the stuff you don't care about.

Umm ... what is an RA?

RSS is invaluable. (For one thing, you would have found all the good arguments in favor of privatizing the Illinois lottery back on Tuesday :-) )

But more to the point, it's vastly more efficient, certainly than email, which I assume is the source of a lot of your information. And it's just as easy to read Palley from a newsreader as it is on the web. Easier, actually. You don't need to mix up your feeds -- I certainly don't.

One benefit I like of RSS, is when a blog goes all Lazarus on me. The blogger quit for some long period and normally I would eventually quit going to it. Now, I'm pleasantly surprise when they reappear in my box (Statastic.com was like this)

Tyler, Google Reader is wonderful. If you want to read only Jacqueline, you only read Jacqueline. If I am not in the mood to read a blog that I have subscribed to, I just let it mellow, while still reading the other ones. Furthermore, you can mark items as read at school and they will be marked as read at home as well. You do miss out on the design of the blog, at least until you click through to an item to make a comment.

If you want to set it up, let me know; I am usually 50 feet away.

ioae: I've tried using Thunderbird, but I usually just end up seeing two monitors, and the place where I acquire it has a questionable clientele.

Re: the RSS scene: most blogs I visit are based on mood. I'll visit a series of econ blogs, or sports blogs, or political commentary blogs, &c., based on what I feel like reading. There are very few blogs (this one being an exception) that I read every day, despite the fact that I do a lot of blog reading.

It seems to me that RSS would be good for people that want to be "in the know," whereas I don't mind if I read a post a few days late; I'd rather read a series of similar posts at one time.

Of course, this is from someone who only acquired a cell phone in the past week, and doesn't have a blog of his own. I'm practically a Mennonite.

I use Google Reader, and I find it a great way to keep up on blogs with a low posting frequency (e.g. the Becker-Posner blog). For more active blogs (e.g. Brad DeLong), I've found blog readers to be ineffective for me, since I only check the reader ~once a day. This blog has a post frequency that sits on the cusp for inclusion in my blogroll.

I stopped reading 2Blowhards because they didn't have RSS. And I am angry at Language Log for not have the full text in their feed.

Try Google Reader. It's the best of all the blog readers (so say the tech blogs).

You can use it to view only one blog at a time if you want. But I usually read them all together in chronological order.

According to Google Reader, "From your 18 subscriptions, over the last 30 days you read 1,176 items."

RAs are automated daemons that handle many of the teaching, research, and writing processes spawned by a given academic. Occasionally they become sentient, at which time they must be disposed of via a complex "graduation" process, lest they begin demanding tenure and funding and paid holidays.

Er, 2Blowhards here, sorry to learn that we're losing visitors because we don't have an RSS feed. Or offer one, or whatever it is a blog is supposed to do. Really I have no idea, and I only dimly understand this RSS thing anyway.

If anyone would care to tell me how we might supply an RSS feed at our blog, I'd be grateful, either in comments here or to my email address. Do I tell Movable Type to do something? Does a button suddenly appear on our main blogpage that RSS-using visitors can click on? Or some such?

Feeling dimmer with every new web innovation that comes along ...

sharath: try the old "River" format. That may be what the other posters were talking about. I certainly think it's 10x better for filtering a large number of posts and maintaining diversity.

I too like reading blogs "by hand"--I find it analogous to the whole thing of ambling into the kitchen and looking in the refrigerator while coming up with your next paragraph. It is not that you are hungry or even really want a snack, just that the act of looking is somehow appealingly procrastinatory in a way that helps you on to the next bit of work.

I'm not sure I'm clear on the concept of what the term "mainstream" is meant to insinuate. One hopes the author is aware that there are millions of online users who subscribe to RSS feeds already. It's not exactly an 'underground' phenomenon.

I am addicted to RSS. It's the only one I can skim. Using Google Reader, I can share, and the best articles I tend to visit on the blog anyway.

One more thing. RSS is not just about blogs. I have RSS feeds set up for scholarly journals, for search queries, and for other such stuff. Very very useful.

Count me in for all the pro-RSS arguments listed above, especially the pros about Google Reader.

The one note I'll reiterate: you can let posts build up in a feed if you don't want to read new ones every time they come in. I let MR sit the last few days and now I'm catching up.

As for comments, I usually just star the posts with comments I'd like to track, and then open up the actual pages periodically to see what's been posted.

Aggregators are good, but you do have to crush the "neat freak" impulse to keep whack-a-mole-ing new posts as they come up.

I only read blogs as RSS through Google Reader. I enjoy lots of blog authors on many different topics, but even my favorite blogs post on a lot of topics that I am simply not interested in.

I watch 8 blogs and 2 news services, this yields over 200 posts a day. Each day I look at over 200 headlines, and because I'm so busy, I only read maybe 10-20 of those posts. Many of those sites bundle adds into the feeds, and I really don't mind them.

As far as reading inflation goes, yes, it's true. I value each blog less now that I watch 8 as compared with 2 (this one and Cafe Hayek), but I no longer waste time reading those posts that I don't care so much about. Since the information is what I value, and not the brand name of the blog, I would probably not read a blog that didn't use RSS.

RSS lowers the time costs of switching from one blog product to another, making the information market far more competitive. This is the first time I've visited this site in months, but I've read the posts about twice a week. Go ahead and include the ads in your feed, it will probably save your revenue model.

Please come to aoc money, we will give you a great surprise.

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