Tips for consuming information via RSS / by Cory

rss.gifWith over 140 RSS feeds now in my blogroll, it takes me around 2 hours a day to consume all of the info that is published...and most of that is just skimming to pick out the information I want to heavily digest vs. the info that doesn't matter so much. RSS allows us to consume more information faster than ever possible before. I even believe that RSS will increase the rate to which we evolve as a race. The downside of this is information overload. With all of this information at our fingertips, how can we possibly filter the important from the not-so-important? Marshall Kirkpatrick (former writer for Tech Crunch) gives us some insights to how he manages thousands of feeds with ease (I've added a couple tips of my own as well)...

Use a start page

Marshall suggests using a startpage that can be glanced at every couple of hours that gives you a high level of what's new with items you've marked as a high priority. The new google reader provides a nice start page that I sometimes use. Alternatives include Original Signal and Page Flakes.

Preview New Feeds

I think its a good idea to preview new feeds that you subscribe to. This helps keep them separate from other feeds you've deemed as important and reliable information. You can do this by creating a "new feeds" folder or just put them at the root level of your feed reader. Once you've deemed your new feed as one you want to hang on to and read regularly, you can them move into the appropriate folder or tag.

Organize your feeds

This one is pretty much common sense...but common sense is not always common practice. I am constantly re-structuring and optimizing how all of my feeds are organized. At one point i had an "internet" folder, but now its necessary for that to be broken out into 4 or 5 folders. Marshall advises that with thousands of feeds, it helps to separate your feeds by priority so that you can quickly access the more important information.

High priority sources

I'll just quote this one (note the last sentence in bold :)...

"The single most helpful tool for me in my efforts to blog about news events first has been an RSS to IM/SMS notification tool. I use Zaptxt to subscribe to very high priority feeds. It sends me an IM and SMS whenever a high-profile company blog is updated and in a number of other circumstances. There are quite a few services that offer this functionality now and it's invaluable. A big part of taking a prominent position in the blogosphere is writing first on a topic. That's a large part of what got me the job at TechCrunch and it's something that an increasing number of people are clearly trying to do.

In sectors where people are already using tools like the above, I expect further developments to emerge that differentiate writers' handling of the huge amount of information available. New tools and new practices. It's a very exciting time to be someone who works with information."

Do you have any tips to share? Let me know!