I’ve written before about how I don’t have notifications on my phone or computer. But that doesn’t stop computer programmes waving at me, trying to attract my attention.

If I have my email client open on my computer there’s a red circle with a number in it telling me how many unread emails I have. It’s the same with Slack. If Slack is running and somebody writes something to me, or @here, or @everyone, then a red circle blinks into existence.

There’s a category of programmes like this that want my attention—email, Slack, calendars. In each case, emptiness is the desired end goal. Seeing an inbox too full of emails or a calendar too full of appointments makes me feel queasy. In theory these programmes are acting on my behalf, working for me, making my life easier. And in many ways they do. They help me keep things organised. But they also need to me to take steps: read that email, go to that appointment, catch up with that Slack message. Sometimes it can feel like the tail is wagging the dog and I’m the one doing the bidding of these pieces of software.

My RSS reader should, in theory, fall into the same category. It shows me the number of unread items, just like email or Slack. But for some reason, it feels different. When I open my RSS reader to catch up on the feeds I’m subscribed to, it doesn’t feel like opening my email client. It feels more like opening a book. And, yes, books are also things to be completed—a bookmark not only marks my current page, it also acts as a progress bar—but books are for pleasure. The pleasure might come from escapism, or stimulation, or the pursuit of knowledge. That’s a very different category to email, calendars, and Slack.

I’ve managed to wire my neurological pathways to put RSS in the books category instead of the productivity category. I’m very glad about that. I would hate if catching up on RSS feeds felt like catching up on email. Maybe that’s why I’m never entirely comfortable with newsletters—if there’s an option to subscribe by RSS instead of email, I’ll always take it.

I have two folders in my RSS reader: blogs and magazines. Reading blog posts feels like catching up with what my friends are up to (even if I don’t actually know the person). Reading magazine articles feels like spending a lazy Sunday catching up with some long-form journalism.

I should update this list of my subscriptions. It’s a bit out of date.

Matt made a nice website explaining RSS. And Nicky Case recently wrote about reviving RSS.

Oh, and if you want to have my words in your RSS reader, I have plenty of options for you.

Have you published a response to this? :


Baldur Bjarnason

“Adactio: Journal—Reader” Opening up my feed reader app in the morning feels the same as opening the newspaper in the morning felt 20 years ago. Except all the articles are interesting and the cartoons are amazing.

P. Mergey

Unfortunately, RSS feeds remain an underrated technology. @adactio has written an short article describing some differences between opening a RSS reader with other tools: “it doesn’t feel like opening my email client. It feels more like opening a book”

# Posted by P. Mergey on Wednesday, September 22nd, 2021 at 6:45am


# Liked by Ryan Barrett on Friday, July 30th, 2021 at 8:22pm

# Liked by Marty McGuire on Friday, July 30th, 2021 at 8:46pm

# Liked by Lucid00 on Saturday, July 31st, 2021 at 10:21am


# Bookmarked by Beko Pharm on Tuesday, August 3rd, 2021 at 8:25am

# Bookmarked by Jan Boddez on Wednesday, August 4th, 2021 at 1:43pm

Previously on this day

10 years ago I wrote Hot topics, transcribed

The transcription of the audio of the panel: hot stuff!

18 years ago I wrote Brighton Bloggers

Things are afoot in the Brighton blogosphere.

19 years ago I wrote Adobe Photoshop

I finally slapped down the cash for an upgrade to Photoshop 7.

19 years ago I wrote Airborne

There’s a great picture of Jessica up at The Mirror Project . It was taken about 39,000 feet above Arizona,