Nptech101: How I Read 2,000 Articles in 30 Days

October 12, 2008

Posted in Technology.

That’s right: I’ve read 1,916 items from 88 different websites in the last 30 days.

I do this by collecting and reading feeds. There are different formats like RSS and Atom, blah blah blah… don’t worry about the technical stuff. Just worry about the payoff and how to use them.

Feed readers are to the web as Tivo is to television

If you have a DVR (e.g., Tivo) you might get the analogy. You can record shows and watch them later. Maybe you even set it up to record a season and just watch the shows when it’s convenient for you. Feeds (and feed readers) are like DVR for the web.

This post is just one more attempt at explaining and selling you on the concept of feeds. At Notre Dame, we put up a page explaining feeds. Beth Kanter has a toolbox for RSS readers and there are lots of other posts that explain the how and why of feeds.

Why Should I Care?

The big payoff is your ability to consume a lot of valuable content in a short amount of time. There are some brilliant experts out there providing research, advice, tips, and lessons – all for absolutely free. I read feeds that will make me smarter and more valuable. It gives me an edge.

It’s still magic to me

Now that your curiosity is piqued, I ask you to invest 3 minutes and 44 seconds watching this video and learning everything you really need to know about feeds. Trust me, you’ll get that time back.

Thanks for Common Craft for great explanations of confusing stuff.

How do I get started?

1. Pick a feed reader. I use Google Reader to get me through tons of feeds and articles. Other options include Bloglines or NetVibes or any of hundreds of other readers. If you just want to get started, go get Google Reader.

2. Start collecting feeds. When you read a website and like what you see, look for a feed icon in the address bar. Or look for one somewhere on the site. Most new browsers make it easy to subscribe just by clicking on the feed icon.

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3. Start reading. I organize my feeds and spend some time each day reading the work-related stuff: marketing, non-profit, personal development. I also put off some of my feeds (comics, lolcats) for a few days and read them when I have leisure time. And as usual, quality trumps quantity. I tend to skim and skip articles that don’t interest me. I unsubscribe if I decide the site isn’t providing me with enough value – I want to improve the signal to noise ratio.

Hey, if you’re not reading Non-Profit Chas by feed, look to the right column for the link to my feed and get started.

Want to comment? Send me a note on Twitter or email me.