Sunday, December 02, 2007

Sorting By Attention, Not Content

Sink or Swim: Managing RSS Feeds with Better Groups (43 Folders):

When given the option to group things, we tend to do it topically, with labels like “Sports,” “Technology,” “Blogs,” etc. For years, I lumped my feeds into folders like this, thinking it would help me manage them, but all it did was help me ignore just how many I’d subscribed to by tucking them away in folders. I still looked at the growing numbers of unread items and felt that endless sense of dread that I would never finish...So it dawned on me to group my feeds by the way in which I want to read them, not by topic. If there were some feeds that I didn’t mind missing, and some of which I wanted to read every single word, I should organize them that way, not by their putative subject areas.
Feed Reading (
I have several folders for reading long-form blogs:

Food and Drink

Always, Often, and Sometimes are self-explanatory. The Pending folder is for blogs that I'm trying out, Frippery is stuff that is to be read during non-work hours (ha!), and the Infoglut folder contains a bunch of blogs that have a low signal-to-noise ratio and are too high volume to keep up with unless everything else is read (any multi-author pro blogs that I read (not many) are in here)...

All this folder business might seem overcomplicated, but I find that grouping feeds by mode helps greatly. And by mode, I mean when I'm reading link blogs, that's a different style than reading/skimming long-form blogs in the Always folder. Posts from link blogs usually take a few seconds to read/evaluate/discard while the Always folder posts take longer. If they were all lumped together, I couldn't get through them as quickly and thoroughly as I can separately. A juggling analogy will help -- Wait! Don't leave, I'm almost done! -- it's easier to juggle balls or clubs or knives than it is to juggle balls, knives, and clubs at the same time...same thing with different kinds of blog posts.

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