Why I still use RSS
July 9, 2014 1 Comment
A colleague of mine just got turned on to the power of Feedly and it got me thinking about RSS and it’s evolving role in my information diet.
I have always been a reader and voracious consumer of information. I subscribe to numerous magazines and newspapers via Apple’s Newstand on my iPad. I love to read a good book via Kindle on either my iPad or my Kindle Paperwhite. I also listen to books on Audible on my commute and podcasts when I’m working out at the gym.
But, it has become increasingly difficult to stay on top of all the relevant breaking news in today’s fast-paced world. Surfing the web to try to keep up is not a viable option as it just takes too much time and it is easy to get trapped in a rabbit hole of non-productivity. I have found using RSS feeds is the best way to keep on top of all the news and developments in order to be successful in today’s business and technical world.
Many people have given up on RSS (Really Simple Syndication) feeds and it is definitely on the decline since Google dropped Reader. However, I still use RSS because I can subscribe to a wide variety of sources and quickly scan what is going on in the world. I consider this a critical part of my overall continual learning experience. I treat my incoming RSS Feeds just like my email inbox and try to process all my feeds to zero every day.
I have tried many RSS readers and since the demise of Google Reader, and now I use Feedly on all of my devices to consume RSS content. I do not use any of the “pretty” feed aggregators that try to make a custom magazine because it is just too inefficient for the volume of feeds I process every day. With Feedly I can quickly scan the headlines to determine which ones I want to click on to get more information. Once I click on a particular item I get a short synopsis of the article or post and then if I want to actually read it I click on the link and it takes me to the web site where I can read the original article. If I want to keep the article to read later or for some kind of follow up, I just select the “Send to Evernote” option to process later. If the article is something I want to share with others I use the “Send to Buffer” option to tweet it and post it to LinkedIn. I usually process my feeds the first thing in the morning when I am at the gym on the Precor elliptical trainer.
I currently subscribe to 60 feeds which result in over 500 posts per day and I am able to process them in approximately 20 minutes. This allows me to keep up on all the news and events from sources I consider relevant to my career and life. I treat my feeds very Darwinian way in that if a particular feed is not providing relevant information I delete it. This results in a very fluid OPML file (OPML files are the list of RSS feeds a reader program uses) that is constantly changing. Frequently I subscribe to a feed to try it out only to decide it does not make the cut and is delete in a week or so. I also remove feeds that have dedicated iOS apps like Techcrunch, CNet News, The Verge, Boy Genius Report, Engadget, etc. because I prefer to view that content in the native app due to its optimized formatting.
I pride myself on knowing information before others and daily processing of RSS feeds is the key to making this a reality. It gives me a competitive advantage in work and life. I am extremely impressed when someone on my staff tells me something relevant that I do not already know about. If it happens once in a while then it is just luck or timing but if they consistently know relevant information before me it shows me they have an effective system for processing information and I try to learn how they do it.
How do you process information in today’s fast-paced world?