When skimming trumps reading

I skim articles all day via RSS. I’d bet I look at over 1,000 articles per day, five days a week. I’ll give something a quick look, searching for certain terms. If I see them, I’ll read a little more. If I like what I’m seeing I’ll read the whole thing and identify that article as something to write about. Then I move on to the next one. Repeat.

This is how I use RSS. I don’t have a thousand unread articles in my RSS inbox because none of them sit there that long. In, read, out.

The problem is that I’m now skimming everything. I have to force myself to stop and read something word for word, even if it’s casual, fun reading. That’s not a good thing.

RSS isn’t dead

But Twitter is faster. Reeder 3 for iPhone was released today, prompting Chris Herbert to remark, “People must still really care about RSS since Reeder is trending in my timeline.”

RSS certainly isn’t dead. I depend on it heavily for work. But it’s definitely dying. Twitter is significantly faster at disseminating news. I find that following various developers, news outlets, writers and so on on Twitter yields faster access to what they’re sharing than RSS. In fact, many of those folks tweet something new before they add it to a blog. I subscribe to several news feeds and their corresponding Twitter accounts. The latter beats the former at disseminating news the majority of the time.

RSS option updates

I’ve fiddled with the site’s RSS feeds. Here’s what’s available (all feeds provide full content):

The main feed. Articles and links:

Articles only :

Links only:

Weekly Review. The week’s top stories plus my commentary:

Diversions. Just the links from the Diversions sidebar item:

RSS hierarchy

I’m following Patrick’s RSS hierarchy, in an attempt to make triage easier. I scan or read thousands of posts across hundreds of feeds every day, and need some organization. Here’s the system of folders I’ve adopted:

  1. A-List: Daily must-reads
  2. B-List: High value yet not daily reads
  3. C-List: Visit weekly
  4. Probation: Feeds moved to this folder must earn their way back out. Those that remain will be purged weekly.

It’s a good system and I thank Patrick for sharing.