Getting my RSS Subs under Control

Getting my RSS Subs under Control

In the past, I actually haven’t read a lot of other blogs. Oh, I subscribe to them, but I am bad about reading them. My thinking was that I needed to keep focused on getting my own stuff done, and didn’t need all those extra ideas swimming in my head.

When I was diagnosed with Adult-Onset Productivity-Responsibility Syndrome, I realized that getting back in touch with the world was a very big deal, both personally and professionally. I just need to be smarter about it! In other words, develop a process that maximizes my productivity in this regard.

The Process, inspired by the “batch cognition” approach that I see in GTD:

  1. Skim all blog titles only in Bloglines.
  2. Open summary for interesting titles.
  3. If it looks interesting, middle-click the post link (this opens the link in a new tab).
  4. Scan the article. Add it to my StumbleUpon toolbar if it’s exceptional.
  5. If it’s really good, print it out and file it in my General Reference.

It’s important that I middle-click the post link, not the links inside of the blog post itself. That’s because otherwise I lose the original attribution for interesting sublinks.

Why Bother?

I would say that there are two areas of interest for me, professionally speaking.

  • Productivity — This is a subject very close to my heart, and I didn’t even know it until a few weeks ago. I like stationery and office supplies. I am naturally curious about information graphics, design, communication, and workflow. This is quite probably the core of my business, and I need to find a community of like-minded individuals to talk with. I think this will help shape my “corporate identity”. There are supporting categories for this: graphic design for how people perceive visual communication, industrial design for how people interact with objects, interior design and architecture for how people deal with spaces, heck, just about all forms of design are pertinent. Cognitive science and systems analysis also come to mind, as do the various writings on organizational science, logistics and management.

  • Empowerment — I like the feeling of being empowered, and I like figuring out how to make it happen in myself and others. Anything I learn, I naturally like passing along. Normally I draw upon my own experiences, but there is a lot going on that I’d like to help build. Supporting categories for this: education and learning to understand how to effect change in somone, psychology to understand personal motivation and the self, and leadership to have the strength to show people the way.

So that’s what I’m thinking the core of my reading will follow. Then there’s the maintenance of skills which act in a supporting role.

  • Flash Development — I’ve been doing interactive development in Flash since version 3, and Director since version 3 as well, but I’m not really drawn to the hardcore Flash/Director community. This lack of passion used to bother me, but now I just see it as a sign that Flash is a “supporting interest”, not the interest itself.

  • Web Development — Another skill I picked up along the way that falls into the “supporting interest” category. Javascript and DHTML does not get me hot and bothered, but that’s OK. I can navigate this area comfortably now, and the Web 2.0 community has a wonderful we built this city on rock and roll vibe to it.


p>There are tons of other areas of interest, but I think these 4 categories will suffice for the daily read. It just struck me that there’s one more category of blog that I need to have:

  • Personal Blogs — There are a number of people on the Internet that I just find fascinating, and I follow them because they are personally inspiring. There’s usually some kind of overlap with one of the other areas, but not always. I read these blogs purely because I enjoy them.

Now that I have a process in place, I’m hopeful that my blog reading will be more productive. I’ll reorganize my bloglines subscription by these categories, and remove any blog that doesn’t fit. That should improve my focus considerably.


  1. James Neal 16 years ago

    When I first started checking out the blogosphere I began using Bloglines.  I ultimately found the user interface to be tedious and didn’t invite me to keep up with my RSS feeds.  I now subscribe to Newsgator and I love it’s design and folder system.  I am able to scan feeds, clip posts, and read what I want.  I also have a set list of blogs that I follow.  I tried to religiously check those blogs while in the productivity mode and then sporadically check in on those others when I am just surfing the web for entertainment.  I will say that I read David Seah at least twice a week whether for productivity or entertainment.

  2. Chris 16 years ago

      If it’s really good, print it out and file it in my General Reference.

    As well you could jut save it in your General Reference on your Harddisk.  Saves Paper, Ink and Time.  Is searchable with grep, spotlight.  Or, not?

  3. Dave Seah 16 years ago

    James: Hey, are you using the online version of Newsgator or a software package? I just looked at it again to see…I had avoided it for a long time because I thought it was associated with that gator spyware company.

    Chris: That’s an excellent point. I have yet to set up my computer general reference by alphabetized subject. There are certain kinds of reference I like to print. Recipes, for one. Documents that look nice in print (PDFs) too. Documents I want to show to someone as we collaborate.

    I’m actually not sure what I would save in my computer general reference, now that I think about it. There are good chunks of it that I do know how to find, but I’d have to say I almost never look for it. My fonts, software, etc are all already organized in archives on my server, as are all the projects I’ve done. Interesting.

    What kind of stuff do you have in your computer’s general reference?

  4. James Neal 16 years ago

    I’m using the online version of Newsgator … I am not familiar with any spyware issues.  I love it and really prefer it over Bloglines.

  5. Dave Seah 16 years ago

    Cool…maybe I’ll give it a try later this week! there are some things about bloglines that kind of bug me.

  6. Dat Nguyen 16 years ago

    Good post—there’s nothing more demoralizing than those huge numbers next to your RSS feeds. Bringing those numbers down take so much time that I often just leave it to pile up only to get that feeling that there’s so much catching up needed.

    I’ve devised a system to prioritize my daily reads so that I can get more done in a day. To lessen the numbers, I only put low-trafficked blogs in my RSS reader. For news websites and blogs that are updated too often, I throw them in organized bookmark folders that I read daily. For every interesting title, I open a new tab and read the contents based on initial skimming. I usually get through a few articles then start my next distraction (whether it be work or further reading elsewhere).

    In this process, I always leave at least twenty articles unread incase they’re more interesting to read at a later time-frame. I let it sit for a couple of days until I have the will to review them again. After the phase in limbo, I’m able to judge whether the articles were truly important or distractions. I discard the distractions and put the rest on for future reference.

    There’s so much knowledge to take in nowadays that you have to be discerning of what you take in. It hate having to review everything, but that’s just the way the world works. No network or person will give you exactly what you need.

  7. Dave Seah 16 years ago

    Thanks for sharing your process, Dat! The organized bookmark folder idea is an interesting one. Are these “Live bookmarks” in the browser, or an actual shortcut link?

    One thing I forgot to mention is that I have a secret homepage on my website that lists my daily reads. All my browsers are set to this as the home page on every computer I use. Although there are many links on this page, the ones I click on the most are probably the online comic strips I read daily.

    I haven’t gotten into at all…I should probably give it a try.

  8. Dat Nguyen 16 years ago

    For my bookmarks, they’re actual shortcut links. The reading looks weird because I go through the pages really fast. Say when I’m going through my “design blogs” folder, I open the 30+ sites in tabs and when they’re done loading, I skim through each tab by just reading the first title in half a second to two seconds depending on how interesting the title is and move on to the next while keeping any tabs that are interesting.

    Your secret homepage idea is really interesting. I’ve been lazy though and use someone else’s RSS aggregation page for my normal news.

  9. Ezekiel 16 years ago

    Problem with RSS Feed in WordPress.
    I have a subdomain that I installed wordpress for another blog site, but the subdomain site's rss feed points to my parent site.
    Can anyone come up with any suggestions?

  10. Dave Seah 16 years ago

    Ezekial: You probably have to change the blog adddress in General Options, I’m guessing, so it points properly to your subdomain.

  11. Gilroy 13 years ago

    @Ezekiel I also face the same problem in Blogspot.
    Can I also check the General Options of Blogspot for solving it.. Or there is some other way to done it in Blogspot.
    Your suggestion are highly appreciated.