I use Google Reader for my RSS feeds. As seen in the image, along the left column there are counts for unread items.
My question is this: is showing an unread count a good design decision in terms of the psychology of the user? For myself personally, it reminds me of email, in which I feel that every time I have a number in bold, that I need to get rid of that number by reading emails. That is not necessarily a bad thing for email, but for a reader, I do not know if it is a desirable response to bring to the user.
I know Twitter doesn't have any such thing, and I imagine it could be somewhat annoying if it did. Facebook is a little bit different, in that it has an expandable notification that says something like "7 New Stories."
So my question is, is such an unread count desirable? Is there another alternative that notifies a user of unread items that doesn't produce a sense of urgency? Or is such a notification even necessary? Or am I the only one who feels this way?