Break Out of Your Feed Reader and Enjoy the View
16th Oct 2007
I started subscribing to feeds a couple of years ago, using the serviceable Sage extension for Firefox, before ditching it in favour of the remotely hosted Google Reader. It’s taken some time to attain a sustainable habit, swinging between binge and fast, but recently I think I’ve pegged it.
In Google Reader, having the articles laid out on a level playing field seemed like a good thing, at least initially. Set as they were under the uni-identity of the reader, I was ploughing through several hundred posts a day, not exactly at my most discerning.
But, I started to miss the design of the web-sites, even though I was reading their actual content. I wanted to enjoy posts in their proper context again. I ended up reading about my field (web design), while at the same time cutting myself off from it.
Recently, I started following a practise picked up from Zen Habits (I mentioned it previously in my Interesting elsewhere links):
RSS posts: I’ve been adjusting this as I’ve experimented, but I’ve settled on reading 6 posts per day. The method: I open my Google Reader in list view, scan through the headlines, and choose just 6 to read, opening them in new tabs. I then “Mark All as Read” and go and read my 6 posts in further detail. It has made RSS reading super fast.
I definitely read more than 6 a day, but a lot less than previously. That leaves just the interesting articles, and the crucial step of opening them in a series of new tabs means leaving the sterile environment of the reader. It’s like using a catalogue with a printed list to shop for books. Select the ones you want to read, then leave the list behind.