My name is Kirk Biglione and I have a problem. I’m addicted to RSS.
Like most addictions my problem started as innocent experimentation. I began dabbling in RSS years ago when it was still a relatively new technology. I told myself that it was a better way to keep up with the news. I rationalized that I’d save hours every day by using RSS to take a more focused approach to online reading and research. A few minutes with my feed reader was supposed to be like an hour or more of surfing the hundreds of the websites that I try to keep up with on a regular basis.
Well, that’s the way it was supposed to be. How was I to know that RSS would turn into the pervasive and addictive social menace that it’s become today?
In retrospect, I probably should have known better. I have a history of information addiction. Way back in the mid-80’s (pre-web, of course) I was program director at KFSR. At some point we decided it would be a good idea to subscribe to a wire service. One day some nice men came and installed a UPI wire machine in our office. This magic box was a sort of souped up a dot-matrix printer connected to some kind of dish mounted on the roof. The machine received current news updates from the sky and printed them out in real-time. Suddenly I had access to an unlimited supply of current news with no intermediary.
It wasn’t long before I started making excuses to go to the KFSR office after-hours and on the weekends. I’d linger over the wire machine waiting for updates. What if something interesting came in? I’d be the first person to know … unless the ink ran out or the paper jammed.
From this story you can probably tell that I’m not the sort of person who should have access to a feed reader. At least not if I hope to be a productive member of society.
Things really started going down hill around the time I discovered FeedDemon. Damn that Nick Bradbury! With FeedDemon I was tracking nearly a thousand feeds a day. I’d focus on the topics I was most interested in by setting up watch lists. At first I thought that FeedDemon was helping me to effectively manage my information addiction. On the contrary, the problem was actually getting worse. I eventually realized that the more blogs I read, the more blogs I subscribed to. Each day I’d add a dozen new feeds to FeedDemon. It was a vicious circle. My feed reading began taking up larger chunks of my day.
At some point I came to my senses and realized that I had a serious problem. I had become overwhelmed by the sheer number of feeds that I’d subscribed to. That’s when I stopped. I went cold turkey. This happened around the time I completed my switch from Windows to Mac. My decision to quit was, in part, supported by the fact that I had a hard time finding a Mac-based feed reader that I liked. I tried nearly every available aggregator and none of them lived up to FeedDemon. I know many of you think highly of Net Newswire, but it just doesn’t feel right to me.
Unfortunately my experiment with RSS abstinence didn’t last long. It’s almost impossible to be a functional RSS addict in our society. RSS has become so pervasive there’s simply no way to escape it. Everywhere I look I see those damn orange icons.
My return to RSS indulgence started innocently enough. At first I plugged a few of my favorite feeds into MyYahoo. Eventually I found myself subscribing to feeds in Firefox. “These are live bookmarks” I told myself. “Entirely different concept”. But deep down inside I knew that they were the same old thing and that my RSS addiction was resurfacing.
As my collection of live bookmarks grew, I began grouping them in folders, and then sub-folders. At some point they became so deeply nested they were almost impossible to use, and I found myself out on the street again, desperately looking for a reliable feed reader to give me the full-featured RSS fix I can’t live without.
I finally turned to Shrook. I’d experimented with it briefly in the early days of my transition to OS X. I know some Shrook detractors, but for me it comes the closest to replicating what I loved about FeedDemon. I like Shrook’s Smart Groups, as well as the ability to synchronize my reading activity between multiple computers. I can start reading feeds on my desktop, then switch to my laptop later in the day and Shrook will mark the feeds I’ve already read.
Lately I’ve been hearing good things about Google Reader. As a Google beta application it’s under active development and improving rapidly. I try it out periodically to see if it meets my needs, and I have to admit it’s getting pretty close. At some point it may become my feed reader of choice. Fortunately when that day comes I know that I can easily transfer all of my feeds from Shrook by exporting them to an OPML file and then importing them into Google Reader.
In the meantime I’m trying my best to manage my problem while maintaining a relatively normal and active life. Some days are harder than others (especially when there’s a Stevenote). To be honest, I’m not sure there’s a chance I’ll ever fully recover. When all is said and done I sort of like being an RSS junkie.
Nick Bradbury says
It’s surprising how many people describe me the same way they’d describe a drug pusher 🙂
I share your predicament! So what do I do? Add you to my feedreader of course!!!
I hate you…this is good stuff.
Oh Nick, one of these days you’re going to pay for the damage you’ve done to society 😉
Baron – damn you too! Now you’re in my feedreader.
I suppose you meant me when you spoke of Shrook “detractors”? I think my concerns are legitimate. I am really happy with Google Reader. And I miss FeedDemon — I loved FeedDemon, but, you know, Mac and all that.
Ronald Lewis says
The Internet is a good addiction. Pass along those bytes!
hey guys, i too am a junkie of rss, i use a site called rsscram.com it seems to help with the organization, plus its machine independent. check em out, it may help organize your things..
Tim King says
I’m only just really getting into using a feed reader (actually using the opensource ‘FeedReader’) for RSS, although I’ve been using and publishing RSS feeds for what seems like forever.
I can almost feel the lure of RSS whenever I go near my computer, its addictive for sure. I just hope that one day we all wont need some form of Betty Ford RSS Clinic!
damn! you got me hooked too now. you evil gits 😉
I too went through the same long search for the feed reader on OSX. It’s interesting to hear your thoughts on NetNews wire and Shrook because those are the same two readers that made my “final cut”. In the end, I settled on NetNews wire over Shrook, but only once I discovered it was also possible to sync via .mac or newsgator, just like you describe doing with Shrook.
At the end of the day, I also worry about spending too much time reading my RSS feeds, though I’ve managed to keep my subscription list to a couple dozen. After all..
.. oh sorry, my feeds just refreshed… what was I saying?
Your on a mac, are an rss addict and you don’t have Newsfire????
Dr Zen says
I feel such an amateur. I only have a few feeds in Sage. But I do refresh them manically in the hope of updates way more often than updates are even possible.
Ryan Tomayko says
I wonder what Bob Saget would say? (NSFW)
I’m also an RSS addict and have experienced/used alot of different newsreader. One problem that I encounter is that I might lost every feeds I’d subcribe to if my machine gets corrupted or something. I used http://www.netvibes.com to fix my RSS needs.
It’s nice that it’s organized even keeping all my bookmarks but damn, I couldn’t get pass a day without opening my netvibes page. I’m so screwed!
I’m going to place your feed under media tabs in my netvibe page.
Not an RSS addict but I automatically like sites more if they have RSS.
Sift through all the RSS garbage in real-time with Newscribe!
I’ve 200 feeds in my google reader they produce something like 1000 news per day
yes I’m addicted TOO
HELP ME PLEASE 🙂
LOL! 12 Step RSS Meeting today at…wait a minute I have 138 new feeds to check first. You know in all human endeavors only two groups are classified as ‘users.’ Drugs and computers…hmmm…
I too use FeedDemon every day for hours a day.
I recently have been looking for a different feeder, no real reason, just because.
I am finding the volume of data continues to grow and I am thinking some more advanced filtering/searching etc would be helpful to deal with the bloat.
Anyone know of any comparable readers (non web)? The interface/usability of Awasu leaves a bit to be desired.
I guess that many guys feel empathy with you. Those daily tech news really got me. Checking rss news is the first thing what I do when I turn on the computer. 😉
I subscribe to heaps of feeds and although it is a good way to track and keep up with all your favourite sources it sure does consume a lot of time. Information overload or something like that. Sighâ€¦..Iâ€™m off to my therapist.
Retro Computer says
It is often not appreciated that although a level of information and data although usefull if overkill is of even less use.
One can be addicted in a way to anything.
However sometimes as it can be said less can be more in the end effect of gathering information to either appreciate an area or make decisions based on available data.
I feel your pain, my friend! Although I’m more of a “add a dozen feeds every month” than an “every day” kinda guy. I can’t imagine my google reader having that many feeds! I’m in awe 🙂
Great story. It’s so funny how the stories we enjoy the most are the ones we relate with, just a little 😉
Welcome to the club! Here is the only remedy for you..
(Works for me! 😉
Flippo Jr. says
Maybe an intervention could be useful in your situation. I had an intervention dealing with my painful and humiliating addiction to Bobby Sherman Radio on Pandora Media . I’m back to “normal” now !
Great post. I’m getting addicted to RSS feeds also. I use Netvibes but am checking out Google Reader to put additional feeds from blogs I find and I’m even using the integrated feedreader in Internet Explorer 7. Yikes. I’m also an information addict and call myself an Infomaniac.
Well, I think reading RSS may get annoying when you get only partial feeds. I know a lot of sites which offers only partial/summary feeds.
I hate it and I think its better to read from the site. Of course, RSS is fast. But, actually meant for the dial-up-ers !!
Not Proud! says
Thank Steve I’m not the only one! As soon as get to work or home after work, I start to itch & feel the pull of google reader chock full of bold headlines waiting to be read.
Wow and it seems you haven’t even discovered the mobile version of Google Reader. I’m just as addicted as you except my addiction follows me on my BlackBerry. And everything stays synced – Google Reader on BlackBerry, on Google Personalized Homepage, and on Google Reader itself. I’m addicted at home, work, and everywhere I go.
Wow, it’s nice to see I’m not alone with this problem. We definitely need a support group. I’ll setup an RSS feed and get back to all of you with the URL.
Matt Collinge says
How about feeding your addiction by adding an RSS feed for caller ID from your phone! Exactly how to do this is covered in the guide here:
Or maybe an RSS feed containing your completed P2P/podcast downloads?
Boy do I feel your pain. Installing the Google Reader extension in Firefox so I am notified when feeds are updated is even worse. Luckily having internet at work allows me to keep the total new unread feeds down, but it’s getting insanely addicting.
Does having over 100 feeds qualify me as being an addict?
I’m taking a proactive move on the marketplace and opening an rss rehab center.. I’ll make millions!
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Well, I just created a tool for getting rid of RSS addiction step-by-step.
Maybe it could helpful: curerssaddiction.com