Six years ago, I gave up a bad habit. Since 1999 I had been using RSS then Atom as my interesting-stuff changelog. I eventually amassed a subscription collection of hundreds of feeds with subjects ranging from the obvious (tech news and software development) to religion, philosophy, language, and music. Every day, all day, new items came into my feed reader. I had gotten pretty good at culling uninteresting feeds, so lots of it was relevant and exciting to me. If a tech company was rumored to be in acquisition talks, I knew it. If Rubyists started favoring a new library for accessing relational databases or creating parsers, I knew that.
And the unread items count kept growing. Along with it so did my anxiety over not being “in the know”.
So six years ago, I deleted the feed reader from my computer and removed every trace of my RSS + Atom collection from the internet so it could not tempt me. What started as a month-long experiment while traveling through Europe ended as the new norm.
But how do I keep in touch with what’s happening? How do I avoid being completely ignorant?
I guess I don’t. I am ignorant of most of what’s changing day to day in the software industry. So far that’s working out fine for me. When something becomes more than just a community- or industry-wide distraction, I learn about it. And because I’m not so distracted trying to keep up with everything, I have time to catch up on the things that matter.
I was reminded of this today when I read MG Siegler’s assertion that very little of what you read on the internet is actually true, which was sent to me via email by a colleague.