Colin, I saw this article last week and I agree with your thoughts. Your analysis and the concept of the fear of missing out is a strong one. It’s even more paralyizing when one is following feeds with longer and potentially denser articles instead of short status updates or even bookmarks.
RSS definitely needs a UI makeover. I’ve been enamored of the way that SubToMe has abstracted things to create a one click button typically with a “Follow Me” or “Subscribe” tag on it. It looks a whole lot more like the follow buttons on most social services, but this one can recommend a feed reader or provide a list of potential readers to add the subscription to. Cutting out several layers and putting the subscription into something where it can be immediately read certainly cuts through a lot of the UI problems generally presented to the average person. It would be nice to see more sites support this sort of functionality rather than needing the crufty pages full of XML and pages describing what RSS is, how it works, and how to add a particular site to a reader.
We’ve come a long way, but we still have a way to to continue on.