MacMillan on RSS

Robert MacMillan at the Washington Post wrote a very good column on the joys and limitations of RSS, harping on the fact that it’s not as simple as it should be (I agree). RSS is one of those technologies where you don’t realize how much you need it until you try it. I now have over 40 blogs and websites in my RSS reader, and I can check all of those sites instantly with a single click of a button. There’s simply no way I would be able to keep up with these sites otherwise. And for sites that don’t have an RSS reader, well, either I’m not reading you at all or you are at a high risk of being dropped from my daily routine.

I use SharpReader as my RSS reader. SharpReader is pretty good—I haven’t had any bugs, and the user interface is acceptable (not great, not bad). The big downside is that it doesn’t check my RSSed sites when I’m out of the office, and that usually means that I will miss some postings from some websites (especially high-volume sites like News.com and Slashdot). Hey, News.com and Slashdot—your RSS feeds should not drop articles so quickly! An RSS website like Bloglines would solve my travel problem as well, but I haven’t made that switch.

For any of my readers not using RSS, you should really get onto the RSS system. [Alternatively, if you're not ready to make the leap, I can add you to an email list to be notified when I post new items (unlike RSS, this is not self-service; I have to add you manually).] You will love RSS because it will save you the time of having to check each website manually. However, on balance, it will probably cost you time as you significantly increase the scope of material you monitor!