Taming the torrent of information

March 3, 2007

I have quite a few blogs, news websites, tech pages, financial stuff, and friends’ pages that I try to check out every once in a while.  My list of bookmarks seemed to be bursting at the seams with all the sites I was trying to keep up with.   Not too long ago, I called a time-out and counted all these blogs and websites that I wanted to check on a daily basis.  Eighty-eight of ’em.  Eighty-eight friggin’ websites.  I felt I was falling further and further behind in trying to keep up with this deluge of information.  And I know people who try to keep up with hundreds of websites.  They’re crazy.  But they’re like me too.

And then I discovered RSS.  “Really Simple Syndication” is a way for people to subscribe to and get updates from blogs and websites.   To see these RSS feeds, you would need to use an “aggregator” — a program or website — which then collects all these updates and lists them all in one place.  And then all you would need to do is to use this aggregator to read all the new blog posts, cute puppy photos, news updates, corny joke of the day, financial snippets, proud papa entries about their babies, product updates — the possibilities are endless.

While there are aggregator programs you could use on your computer, I prefer to use an online aggregator instead.  That way, I can check it anywhere, whether from either of my two computers at home, my personal digital assistant (a Treo 650), or my work computer.  Among the top several online aggregator websites are News Gator, Bloglines, and Google Reader.  I used Bloglines for a while, but switched to Google Reader and haven’t looked back since.

At Google Reader, I set up several “tags” — general areas of interest — financial, political, tech, personal, news / weather, and entertainment.  Then I subscribed to CNN, Washington Post, Drudge Report, and several local news websites — all using the News / Weather tag.  Likewise for several political blogs and websites I try to keep up with — using, well, duh, the “political” tag.  My favorite Treo websites and uber-geek tech blogs all got swept into “tech.”  And so on, ad nauseum.

Oh, how did I subscribe to these sites?  By going to Google Reader, clicking on “Add Subscription” and then just typing the web (“URL”) address of that website — like “www.cnn.com” for Washington Post and “www.washingtonpost.com” for CNN.  Yes, I know it’s the other way around — just checking to see if you’re paying attention.  Likewise for my favorite political blog, “www.dailykos.com”; my favorite tech blogs, “www.downloadsquad.com” and “www.techcrunch.com”; and others.  And hey presto, you’re now receiving all the latest news headlines, geek updates, and political gossip — all through just one website.  And no need to endlessly check your friend’s blog; any changes s/he makes automatically gets sent to Google Reader.  (But if the blog is private, well, Google Reader isn’t set up yet to recognize that.  Growl.)

The great thing about Google Reader (and many other on-line aggregators) is that I can get caught up on my Treo 650.  I read blogs while I’m on the subway, while I’m on the john (shhhh), while I’m in the elevator (and ignoring the puzzled looks from others), while I’m in my car and waiting for a red light to turn green …

So.  That’s how I tame the torrent of information coming my way.

More proud geek stuff coming up soon.  Gotta go watch an episode of “The L Word.”


2 Responses to “Taming the torrent of information”

  1. […] my blog page more, rather than just read it from afar via a feed reader — even though I did recommend using a feed reader in one of my first blog posts!) Posted by proudgeek Filed in […]

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