Feed Reading, Three Ways (Part 4)
Let's recap. It's difficult (if not impossible) to keep up with all the new information posted to countless websites without using RSS feeds. In part 1, I suggested that the proliferation of feeds and the ease of reading them may have actually contributed to the problem of information overload. There's simply too much good stuff to read.
One strategy to deal with this problem is to use different methods to read different feeds, depending on their importance. In part 2, I argued that the best way to read your most important feeds is by email. For example, if you rely on Kevin, MD as a major source of medical news and you don't want to miss a single post, then visit Rssfwd.com and enter Kevin 's feed ("http://feeds.feedburner.com/KevinMd-MedicalWeblog"). That's it. Kevin will email you all new posts -- in daily digest form, if you prefer -- from now on.
In part 3, I suggested that some feeds are best read by using a customized home page, like iGoogle or Netvibes. If Rssfwd turns feeds into letters that are emailed to you, then iGoogle and Netvibes turn feeds into newspapers, complete with topic sections and headlines.
The third way of feed reading is to use a feed aggregator like Google Reader. This type of aggregator turns feed reading into the equivalent of surfing channels -- in the case of Google Reader, the new feed content (usually just the headlines) scrolls endlessly up the screen. Clicking on any headline reveals the full text.
This type of feed reader is most appropriate for content that you'd like to keep up with, but you don't mind missing. (Of course, it's possible to have all your feeds in Google Reader and make generous use of folders to ensure you don't miss the most important feeds.) Google Reader is the most sophisticated way of reading feeds, and has recently added many new features, like discovering new feeds and sharing feeds with your friends.
If you're feeling overwhelmed by the number of feeds you read, and you haven't yet tried Rssfwd.com, iGoogle/Netvibes, and Google Reader -- try them. They might simplify your life and make reading feeds manageable again.