One of the challenges of any web worker is keeping up with the flow of information needed to do your job. Email, IM, SMS, RSS Feeds, Social Networks, and other things give you information, but it can also be a huge distraction. While it isn’t unusual […]

One of the challenges of any web worker is keeping up with the flow of information needed to do your job. Email, IM, SMS, RSS Feeds, Social Networks, and other things give you information, but it can also be a huge distraction.

While it isn’t unusual for a web worker to cut out, say, IM or Twitter–something that seems to demand more immediate attention–I took a different approach: I stopped reading my RSS Feeds on Google Reader, the popular online feed reader.

Why did I choose to cut out this activity? The amount of time it was taking me to go through Google Reader kept increasing with a decreasing amount of content I didn’t get from somewhere else–namely my social networks and email. The number of quality links was substantially higher than I was getting through RSS.

I want to be clear: RSS feeds and RSS readers are wonderful tools. I still use an RSS reader for inside-the-firewall information. I will likely return to using Google Reader at some point in the near future, but I will start with a clean slate.

What about you? Have you killed your RSS reader? Have you completely started over? How do you manage the ever-growing number of items in your RSS reader? Let me know in the comments.

  1. I can’t kill my RSS reader… not yet at least. I get almost all of my information about the tech world, real world (because there is a difference), and all sorts of otherinformation (including this site) from my RSS reader and turning it off would cut out about 90% of the news and other things I take in daily. Sure, there’s twitter and IM to get news from people but having the RSS reader just cuts out the middle man.

  2. I’m surprised you stopped using your Reader. How do you stay informed now? How may feeds were you subscribed to when you stopped? I don’t think I’ll stop any time soon. I’ve subscribed to 149 feeds and I’ve never been on top of news like this before. Yes it costs time, but I usually check my feeds once a day, go through my favorite feeds first, star the ones I want to read, and read the rest later. Every now and then I go through my feeds. If those feeds haven’t produces any new feeds or anything interesting I unsubscribe.

  3. I wouldn’t have seen this post were it not for Google Reader. :-)

    That said, it is so easy to get overwhelmed with RSS. What I do is whenever I feel like that I just mark everything as read. Yeah I’ll miss some things but then I am doing it on my schedule.

  4. I submitted your recent articles on a similar subject having just accidentally wiped all of my RSS subscriptons. Now instead of 95 subscriptions, I have 5 and three of them are comics that just a second (one is WWD)! I don’t feel I’m missing out on anything, the important feeds are on my Netvibes page.

    I feel I have more time, but that’s an empty feeling as I have time to fill up with something… and yes I have things to do, so no more procrastinating because a major procrasination tool (RSS subscriptions!) has gone! :)

  5. I couldn’t cut out completely, that is the way I stay on top of the trends (and some junk, too). I am shocked to hear people have more than 30 feeds. If anything, cut down on the number of feeds and just like e-mail only check them a couple of times per day.

    Of course, I don’t always follow this advice….


  6. I have different folders in my Google Reader, one of which is called “Primary”. This houses all those blogs which are my favourite and I always read it first. I have a separate “News” folder because news related feeds produce tons of posts every day which can be distracting. I also have an “Unread” folder into which I move all the articles I really want to read, but don’t have the time to read right now.

    An important thing to note, is that you don’t have to read EVERYTHING! I frequently use the “Mark All Read” feature to mark everything as read when I come back from holiday, for example. BUT before doing so, I always search for some specific keywords just in case I don’t lose anything of importance.

    Google Reader has some excellent shortcuts which let me wade through feeds quickly and easily. Its worth remembering them.

    Finally, its really important to set a time frame for reading feeds. You shouldn’t let feed-reading compromise other work you have.

  7. There are defiantly ways to make rss consumption easier. For me I gave up on the available readers last fall, but since I’m a programmer I built my own. First thing I hated with your average reader is that with every iphone announcement I had to read the same thing on half the blogs I subscribed to. Such a time waster especially since I don’t really care about the iphone. So I built my reader to recognize blog categories as tags and generate a tag cloud. Works pretty well and I can triage important information and junk pretty easily. I’ve added a few other features also: bundling and fading are very useful. The link here goes to the blog I built to share my ideas.

  8. I find my RSS reader to be a plethora of unique interesting ideas I wouldn’t have considered elsewhere…so no, I’m not going to get rid of it yet.

    Data points, Barbara

  9. I thinned my reader after attending BlogHer. It made me realize that I was still subscribed to things I wasn’t reading and it was creating noise where I don’t need additional noise. Like others, I subscribe to a combination of tech & personal. The only way I could keep up with the amount of information in my field would be in a feed reader, so it’s there for my reading when I need it. I also star posts for later reference. For me it’s a more sophisticated delicious.

    Do you feel a little lost without your feed reader? It’s like my imaginary, very much better informed, best friend.

  10. Margy Rydzynski Thursday, July 24, 2008

    I’d be lost without my RSS reader. I think the trick is to make sure you’re only getting the feeds you’re actually reading! I use NewsFox rather than Google Reader. I find it an easier interface to browse and I only get what I want on it. There are no other “suggestions!” a la Google Reader.

    Like your other commenters, I rely on the feed reader to keep me up to date in my field, also in my online personal life.


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