I just read “Why keeping up with RSS is poisonous to productivity, sanity” (posted by a friend on, yes, Google Reader). You don’t need to bother; it’s yet another “I took an internet break and realized that the internet is eating my life” essay.
But she quotes data (which may not be valid; I didn’t look into it) that says “only six percent of North American, Internet-using consumers use an RSS feed once per week or more.” Google apparently agrees; as much as my friends and I love it, Reader seems to be an ignored minor colony of the vast Google empire.
This fits with conventional blogger wisdom, which says that you need to post as often as possible and on as regular a schedule as possible, or people will ignore you. In other words, people are individually checking your blog rather than only looking when their RSS reader says you’ve posted something new.
To me this seems hilariously outdated. Eleven years ago, when I was in college, my friends already all had “web journals,” and we got tired of clicking through the list every couple of days to see who had written something new. So one friend wrote a handy early RSS reader. Now that everyone has a blog, wouldn’t this be an even bigger problem? Has everyone really managed to pick 3 or 4 sites that aggregate everything they could possibly want to know on the internet?
I have not. Not even close. In Reader I have 40 Must Read subscriptions and 35 Must Skim. Many are friends’ blogs who post rarely. Most of the rest are kidlit blogs, each of which are writing about different books. It is part of my job to have at least passing familiarity with as many YA novels as possible, and that would be harder without RSS gathering up all these reviews for me.
That said, when I look at my feeds, I am much more likely to click on the ones that have 1 or 2 new posts than the ones that have 35. With a small investment of time, I can check that blog off and shorten my feed list. It’s quite satisfying, if you are the sort of person who likes checking things off lists! This supports the way I post (sporadically) and flies in the face of that conventional blogger wisdom.
So I’m curious about my readership. Do you use an RSS reader? If so, do you clean out your whole list every day? Do you just click on a few blogs? How do you choose? Or do you think every so often, “Huh, I wonder if Parenthetical has posted anything new lately?” and go check? (Or are you reading this because you’re friends with me on Facebook and saw it there?)
I can’t say this is going to change how I post, because frankly if having a gazillion readers were that high a priority for me I’d be doing a lot of things differently (like not having any other hobbies?). But I’m terribly curious!