Over a year ago, I started using an RSS reader. I chose to use Bloglines, because at the time I was actively using about 4 different computers, so having one centralised, web-accessible list to read was very useful.

My experience of using Bloglines (and I think this will transfer to any feedreader really) is that it’s great when you have enough time to keep up. If you know you’ll be able to unbold every post, every day, then everything’s peachy. However, when things start getting busy and you no longer have the chance to skim all 50 WorldChanging posts that have been made that day, or to catch up with various other high-volume blogs, then you’re a bit screwed.

The past year has been a bit hectic for me — first we all got mumps, then came the stress of multiple sets of exams and a dissertation to write. Once all the academic stuff was finished, we had to find a house, buy and completely remodel it and I had to graduate too. So all in all, this year wasn’t exactly awash with time to unbold things.

So what’s my point? Essentially that I am probably going to stop using an RSS reader in the near future. There’s too much of the good content that I really value that has piled up to an extent that I need to set aside hours to sift through even one. If I could be sure that life would get back to “normal” and I’d have the time to read my favourite blogs properly every day, then I’d probably stick with it. But I’m pretty sure that won’t be the case, so rather than become like a lot of people I know who really just skip through most of the things that they aim to read, I’m going to try to find another way around the problem.

Does it matter to you all if I no longer use an RSS reader? Probably not. So why am I writing about it? I think my point is that although the RSS reader is a useful piece of software, it has always been trying to solve the wrong problem. Letting you read all your blogs in one place, so you needn’t visit each site individually does save time. But it really doesn’t reduce the data overload that we all have from trying to keep up. Arguably, part of the problem is that we don’t feel we can rely on other data sources any longer — I mean how many people these days actually read tech news to keep up with what’s going on?

Another problem is that with more and more web-related conferences and blogger meetups, there are more blogs that we’re keeping up with just so we know what our friends are saying. The blogs that I did manage to keep up-to-date with over the past year almost all belonged to people I’d met in person, or which I regarded more as “light relief”. It’s easy to read a light-hearted, short article even if you have very little time.

I think my main point is that however much RSS seems a time-saver, we still haven’t solved the essential problem — we have too much information to process. Until we start focusing on this, rather than incremental increases in speed of processing, then we’re always going to be swamped.