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Internet time-wasting

June 12, 2008

There are a number of ways to lose hours on the internet, but I have found none so effective as the RSS reader. My web-browsing had become a matter of a routine run through my bookmarked sites. Admittedly, this could still waste up to 90 minutes of my day off when the posters had been busy, but this is nothing compared to how long I have been spending since the RSS reader came into my life.

One of my regular stops in blog-land was Culture Strain. Over the past few weeks, updates to this site have been few. Regardless, I continued to check daily, just in case. On Saturday, Sam acknowledged the dearth of new posts, and offered the following: I advise you to add Culture Strain to your RSS reader of choice (and if you don’t know what an RSS reader is: seriously, it’s 2008 now. Try to keep up) to keep abreast of whatever updates are made here.

I had no idea what an RSS reader was! I felt so out of touch! Google offered a number of solutions to my RSS-reader-free existence and I went with FeedDemon. It came with a bunch of pre-loaded feeds and I kept a couple of those: BBC News and The New York Times. In a “newsy” frame of mind, I also added The Age, The Mail and Guardian, and The Australian. Then I plugged in all of my usual daily visits and waited for the feeds to come through.

They did. Despite knowing that I had a choice in what I read – that I wasn’t under any obligation to consume every story fed through to me – I gorged myself on Sunday. Problems with delinquent adolescents in Humberside? I’d better be on top of that story. Rookie police officer killed during a firearms training session? Of utmost importance. My Sunday feeds took me hours to get through. The killer was Tuesday. Evidently, feeds take some time to process, depending on the source. Having heard nothing from the M&G on Sunday, I was completely unprepared for 190 unread stories to appear in my list.

I’m learning how to prioritise. I still eat my “vegetables” – i.e. the news and opinion folders – before my “dessert” – YouTube links, fashion blunders, music reviews – but I am skipping stories that I would ordinarily skip if they appeared in print form. I’ve put some aside for later, then deleted them. I’ve deleted some outright, knowing that I will always come across them on the web if I really need to. I’m still spending more time that I was prior to the RSS revolution, but it’s early days.

And I’m still seeing good stuff like this:

‘Warcraft’ Sequel Lets Gamers Play A Character Playing ‘Warcraft’

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. Josh permalink
    July 6, 2008 2:30 am

    RSS feed is to me what fan mail is to a celebrity. They all want your attention, they flood your inbox, but none of them are important. Sure you could potentially find a helpful article just as a celebrity might find helpful advice through their fans, but the amount of effort required to find such isn’t worth it in my opinion. Now if only Britney spears did more reading and I did less talking.

  2. injera permalink*
    July 6, 2008 9:13 am

    True – at first the daily influx was overwhelming, but I’m now scanning my RSS far more quickly than I was reading sites before. And I’m not wasting time visiting sites to check for updates, which was my main bugbear!

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