I (We?) still dont know how to read RSS feeds

      From the time I discovered what exactly that little orange square with the three lines in it was I have been using RSS feeds to keep track of all of the sites I frequent. I think most readers agree that RSS feeds are in fact far superior to keeping up-to-date on all of the websites and news that we want to read. It took the old model of us going out and getting what we want to the new model of what I want comes to me. Its absolutely a huge step and although you wouldn't know it by the numbers, RSS feeds are going to quickly become the norm.
With that in mind...
     One thing that is infinitely entertaining to study and see is the techniques that we all employ dealing with the different parts of our daily lives. Things like email, that we all use, and all have our own ways of managing. For example, when I check email I do my best to ensure that when I am done that my inbox has 0 unread messages. Of course I don't read every email, I tend to do the "mark as read" bit quite often and it seems as if many other people do the same given how prominently placed it is on just about every email site. I use labels/folders and filters to separate out emails into different groups, nothing wild there. I often catch glimpses of other peoples mailboxes and it is interesting to see how they manage theirs. I'm not going to go into details on all the interesting and bizarre things I've seen, but it seems to work for them (at least for the time being).
     So now we arrive at RSS feeds, which similar to email, requires a some time to figure out how to manage. I know that I have 22 RSS feeds which I subscribe to and the range of post frequency between them varies quite widely. On one end I subscribe the the feeds of a few authors books who I've enjoyed and generally post a few times a week if that, and on the other end of the spectrum there are things like "deal" websites which have a few 100 posts a day. In the middle I have the gamut of tech sites (a la Slashdot, Gizmodo, etc) which tend to have roughly 10-20 posts per day.
     Obviously the sites I subscribe to contain a wide range of things I want to keep track of, but at the same time is brings all of those things together, for better or worse. Before, if I wanted to get my news I would browse through a few sites with how many depending on how much time or interest I had at that particular time. In general I tend to look at things in groups, so may start with regular news, then tech news, then a few blogs, etc. So I would get all the information from a type of site that I was interested in, then move on to another. With RSS feeds everything is all in one location, so I can quickly see posts on all of the sites, and it tells me when there are new articles to read. Unfortunately that means I frequently find myself switching from Techbargains to xkcd a bit too quick and I dont properly "context switch" between them. As a result I often lacklusterly browse the posts in the feed when I really wasnt in the mood to read that particular information at that time, and if I had read it later I would likely have done a much better or more thorough job. Given that most people, including myself employ the "only show me unread messages/posts" feature (if I already saw it, why see it again?), we will likely not see that post again.
     All this leads me to the fact that I simply dont know how to read RSS feeds. I am working on my own technique, but it simply takes time to develop. I thought that after already having one for email the rest would be easy, but thats not quite the case.
     I think RSS is one of those technologies that is going to be hear for quite a while, its really a viable way for information transfer (once we figure out how to use it). For a testament to it, and how acceptable it is becoming, open up your Facebook. What is the first thing you see, yep, your "News Feed". Surprised?


Anonymous said...

Good insight, very informative. Thanks JonnyBOY. I'm only starting to use RSS feeds now, but you're right in that it takes some time to figure out my own method.

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