Wednesday, 4 February 2009

Coping with RSS Overload

Just when I think I've got my email all sorted it suddenly becomes apparent that my Google Reader has over 200 'Starred' items. My pattern for reading blogs through RSS (and, realistically, I hardly ever read anything any other way if I can help it) involves scanning the description and 'filing' the post for a proper read if it's a) too long to read now and b) interesting.

Train journey's are a perfect time to catch up but, unfortunately, too many blogs only give some of the post via RSS - which means that I end up having to go online to read them anyway. This is my third most disliked blog-habit* and makes me pine for a lovely netbook with built in 3G

Organising Feeds

There are some feeds which I always just scan through, some which occasionally need further reading and others which nearly always end up Starred. Most of the time, the Starred posts are work-related and are an analysis of something I follow up on - or post on myself.

So, once in a while I tend to plough through the Starred file to try and get to 'RSS-Zero', I normally do this by 'sifting' the posts several times. 

The first sift is for fun stuff, or passive things (YouTube videos often end up here as I tend to be a reader rather than a viewer). 

The second sift is to sort out themes within the posts - I've already scanned all the posts during the first sift so I can no go through and pick out all the posts about (say) happenings related to LibraryThing/Bowker. These can then be treated as a whole (I tend to try and tease my way back to the 'original' element and then scan the posts after for the analysis elements) and read or possibly even turned into a blog post.

The third sift identifies all the remaining posts which need a good solid read - these are usually going to inform me directly (lifehacker posts tend to end up on the Starred list from time to time) and I tend to pick a few of these posts to add to a 'Useful Links' post which are useful to go back to in the future.

The problem is I always end up with a few 'posts' which have piqued my interest but can't be dealt with there and then. A good example of this is this post by Lorcan Dempsey about the publication of the proceedings of the first M-Libraries conference.

The post interests me for 2 reasons: Firstly, I'm interested that there's a second conference in June this year (not that I'll be able to wangle my way to Vancouver, mind) - that's easy, I just fire an event into my calendar prefixed "Watch:" and then I can forget about it until June.

I'm also interested in reading the proceedings of the first conference, so I check my Library's catalogue and.... oh, it's not there yet. So I leave it starred and check again next time I go on an RSS blitz.


This is OK for one post but I'm now down to such a level that I have 30 or 40 posts at any one time 'sitting' waiting for the world to change in some way before I do something about them. Eventually, I know, I'll declare RSS-bankruptcy and just ditch them. It's sad but it's true.

* First is having feeds which only contain the title, which is a surefire 'unsubscribe' for me and second is making links which look like they're going somewhere link to a blog's previous posts on that subject (you know who I mean, Engadget).

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