Lee Lefever asks What’s Your RSS Reading Strategy?

I need to make two remarks before answering Lee’s question.

First, I think information overload does not exist. Our usual information strategies are failing us because they are based on information scarceness. In order to deal with the new information environment we find ourselves in, we need to change our strategies. That is why Lee’s question is an important one. We need to learn from eachother to find out what works for us.

Second, I increasingly treat information as a landscape I move around in. This info-landscape lies over the physical one. Information as a landscape shapes much of how I treat information, and try to build my own information strategies.

Ok, RSS.

250 feeds, 2 readers
I read about 250 feeds, and the number is growing in bursts. After each burst of growth, the number levels off somewhat while I familiarize myself with the new people who’s feed I read.

To read RSS I use two feedreaders. First and most important is Lektora. A web-based reader that stores all content on my local drive. As I read often while on the train this is very important. The second reader is Bloglines, which I use while away from home, or when my laptop hasn’t got connectivity. I also use this to show others what I read. The feeds in Bloglines usually are somewhat behind what’s in Lektora, as I use Lektora most.

Two approaches to reading
As the number of feeds grew, my reading behaviour has changed.
I used to read all postings everyday. Now I have two main approaches. One is to simply browse through the feeds to get a feeling of what is going on, what themes are getting attention. To detect patterns. Because I try to see RSS feeds as parts of a conversation (I subscribe to people not feeds), listening to what these voices are telling me, is using my social network as a filter, a community filter. Gossip 2.0, so to speak. In this mode I hardly read any specific postings, and if I blog something because of it, it is triggerd by patterns I see.
The other approach has its starting point in myself. Whatever I am currently working on or interested in, questions I am exploring etc. (such as information strategies right now), trigger reading specific postings, commenting and blogging.

Filling the landscape
All my feeds are still thrown on one big heap, but with 250 feeds that is becoming less usefull. If information is a landscape, I am currently experiencing my feedslist as a landscape with too little distinctive features. So now I am playing with lumping feeds roughly together (a group of hills there, a wood there) while rigorously trying to avoid categorization. The latter would destroy the ability to look for patterns in the entire list of feeds.
I’m in the middle of this stage now, and I will let you know when I find a modus that works for me.

5 thoughts on “How Do You Use RSS?

  1. Good to read your way of working (uh reading). Gives me the opportunity to reflect and understanding patterns. Thanks!

  2. interesting to see how your’re reading your feeds, news, community conversations, gossip 2.0. I process about 130 odd feeds using bloglines and have categorized everything. This was simply to protect my eyes from the pain of viewing a monstrous list!
    I find that even if i categorize feeds, my brain/consciousness is laterally reshaped enough to detect/connect any emerging patterns irrespective of which folder the feed is listed in. And this done processing everything though my present cloud system of thinking/feeling/sensing.
    james b.

  3. Hi Ton
    You are a person behind a feed for me. You are with Elmine Wijnia and Liz Lawley in a group that I call “PHD blogs”. All my feeds are in a group and I begin my reading for the groups that I consider more important or where I found more interesting things. I am a brazilian teacher and finished a master degree last year. Now I’m going to doctorat still studing what I call emergent technologies like blogs, rss, wikis and their impact on education.
    I use Bloglines and I categorize and store the data using the clipping section. Now I have to find a way to filter this clipping section that is becoming very fat.
    I think we are only “walking in knees” like a baby, when we work with information, but is nice to see this proccess.
    best, from the south of Brazil,

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