The Dizziness of Freedom

The Sweet Setup delivered a great review of the best collection of RSS readers for iOS: specifically for the iPad, though it is largely true what they say for the iPhone apps as well.

RSS might have lost some mainstream attention when Google Reader was shutdown, but that does not change the fact that RSS is still the most useful way to digest web content. It may be old-fashioned by social networking standards. And sure, site managers would rather you visit their site each and every time you read their content. But RSS best serves the readers. It ‘just works’ when implimented with the right interface. (Second to RSS might be Twitter lists, which I use as a backup mirror of my RSS feeds.)

In his review, Robert McGinley Myers (Hi, Rob) reviews Reeder, Mr. Reader, and Unread. Myers’ technology philosophy is similar to my own. It’s refreshing to see thoughtful iPad power users articulate their sensibilities.

In the end, the best RSS reader is the app that helps you take the best advantage of what RSS offers. Unread is designed for anyone who wants to take advantage of RSS to find and savor great writing. In his description for Unread, Jared Sinclair writes,

Let RSS be the place where great independent writing thrives. Choose your favorite writers and read them closely. If you’re also a writer, write as if you are writing directly to just such a reader, the way Kierkegaard always wrote for: “… that single individual whom I with joy and gratitude call my reader…”

It’s fitting that Sinclair ends this philosophy statement (how many app developers even have a philosophy statement, let alone one so well-articulated?) with a quote from Soren Kierkegaard. I often think of Kierkegaard when I think about the anxiety technology can produce, an anxiety brought on by the power to do so many different things that we’re never quite sure what to do at any given moment. Kierkegaard compared anxiety to dizziness, “the dizziness of freedom.”

Boy, have I been there. I think anyone that has used the App Store and lived to talk about it later has been there. It is difficult to exercise enough self control that we stop ourselves from looking for the ‘next big thing’ long enough to use a few things very well. Contentment is the trick. If you can find the tools that work well for your life, then stop looking for ever more minutia to fill your days, then you can actually get something done. Take the simple approach: find the one solution that really works, then stick with it.

Unread aims to be that solution for web readers. Until someone releases something that significantly outperforms RSS, it is by far the most enjoyable way to read sites. And although Robert’s review is addressing the iPad version, it is safe to say that the iPhone version is a user favorite as well. Unread is on my top ten for any iOS device.

If you are wondering what the next e-reader thing will be, stop. For the meantime, RSS is where it is at, and Unread reduces some of the anxiety. I’m very glad to know that the developer, Jared Sinclair, sold it to Supertop so it will stay in development.

Joe Darnell

Joe is a UI and graphic designer with prior experience as the creative director for three media-based businesses. Joe’s passionate about web design and graphic design with about 15 years of experience in the media industry. Additionally, Joe is the host of the Top Brew and Techtonic podasts, both featured on iTunes.