Increase Your Efficiency With Creative RSS Usage

Last week, I wrote about more efficient RSS reading through pruning, filtering, prioritization, keyboard shortcuts and more. After spending some time reading the comments on the post and thinking about how I use RSS, I realized how many of my feeds are outside of the typical feed used to read blogs or other news. While RSS is a great way to keep up with blogs and other news sources, it can also be used for so much more.

I try to keep updates out of email, so I push as much as possible into my RSS reader for those items that I want to keep track of. As a web worker, so much of what I do relies on being able to keep on top of new information and find the conversations that people are having about the many activities where I have some type of involvement (blog posts, organizations, my consulting services, etc.) I’ll illustrate this with a few examples.

I get many of my blog post comments as RSS feeds instead of email, especially for the high volume blogs, like WebWorkerDaily. While this is straightforward for single author blogs, it took a little work to get a feed of just the comments from my own WebWorkerDaily blog posts. I ended up writing a custom Yahoo Pipe to come up with a feed that worked for me.

I also use many vanity feeds to track mentions of the various activities that I’m involved with across multiple organizations. Most of these are complex Yahoo Pipes that track mentions across blog posts, Twitter, Flickr, video sites and more with filtering to clean up some of the noise. I even posted a two-minute video demo for how to create a quick and very simple vanity feed using Yahoo Pipes. However, vanity feeds don’t have to be complex. You can track the feed from a Twitter search and a blog search in your feed reader to find the most important mentions, without getting into more complex methods.

Alerts for job postings are another good use for RSS. There are a few job boards that have postings from companies looking for consultants in my field. I monitor a few of those sites exclusively via RSS, rather than getting periodic email alerts.

I keep track of output from various online applications that give you the ability to get content as RSS.  FriendFeed, Delicious, Twitter and many other applications have RSS feeds built into the service. I’m more likely to glance at the content if I don’t have to remember to wade through email or go to the site to find it.

Noise to Signal: Look Under "Known Issues"

Finally, don’t forget to add a little humor to your daily RSS routine to break up the serious reading. Noise to Signal, xkcd, and UserFriendly.org are a few of my favorite online cartoons.

What are your favorite creative uses for RSS?

(image from Social Signal, Creative Commons-licensed)

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