140 character summary: RSS rocks, if you’re not using it: you suck. I have too many RSS feeds. I’m going to share my list with you, and trim it down.
RSS, or Really Simple Syndication, was invented by Dave Winer and since learning how to use it several years ago, I’ve affectionately given it the title of “Black Tar Heroin of the Internet.” Twitter came along, and Facebook blew up when they let old people, social media consultants and SEO douchebags in, but real internet junkies, and most serious bloggers, uses RSS to help manage their unquenchable thirst for information. Think of it like subscribing to a newsletter. When a website publishes something new, you get a copy of of that information in your inbox, or in this case your RSS reader. You no longer have to go to 10 different sites to get the information you want, you simply go to your RSS reader, read what you care about, and then go on about your day.
This is where RSS gets dangerous. It used to take you 30 minutes to read 15 sites, now with RSS it takes you only 10 minutes. Some people say “fantastic, now I have an extra 20 minutes to do other, more meaningful things!” while others like myself go “fantastic, now I can read more in 30 minutes than I was able to before!” Once your brain gets used to consuming this much content, you will suffer burn out, guaranteed, and you’ll look forward to those days of down time where you don’t come in contact with anything that runs on electricity.
Several RSS readers exist, Windows users should try out Feed Demon, and while I no longer have a Mac, when I did I used to use Net News Wire. Personally however, I use a browser based RSS reader called Google Reader. Go to reader.google.com and check it out! Here is a screenshot of what my Google Reader setup looks like:
Most websites have an RSS icon somewhere highly visible and they’re usually some variation of this orange icon:
Browsers however are really smart, and if you go to a website that is RSS enabled, you’ll be notified of that fact in your address bar. I use Google Chrome as my main browser, which doesn’t have auto detection, but I have all the major browsers installed. Here is what going to IntoMobile looks like in Firefox 3.5 Beta:
In Internet Explorer 8:
And finally in Opera 10 Beta:
There are mainly two kinds of RSS feeds: full and partial. A third type of RSS feed exists for podcasts, but I’m not going to discuss that in this post. Full RSS feeds, like IntoMobile and most other technology blogs offer, allow you to read what has been posted without needing to go to the website. Some websites however use partial RSS. You’ll see that they’ve written something, but you have to click on a link and go to their website to actually consume the content. They do this to increase their pageview numbers, which in turn helps them ask for more money from advertisers. Obviously I prefer full feeds. If you stumble across a site that has partial RSS feeds, try and contact the owner/editor and ask them nicely to switch to full. You would be surprised how many don’t even know they had partial RSS feeds enabled!
Full RSS feeds also let you enjoy a site’s content without ads. Some websites however have started including ads in their RSS feeds. There is something you can do to get rid of all ads on the internet, but I’ll get to that in another blog post at a later date.
A bundle of RSS feeds can be stored in something called an OPML file. It’s essentially a glorified list. In what may be an unprecedented move for a competitive blogger, I’m going to give you my crown jewels, my list of the 293 RSS feeds I read.
Why am I doing this?
With 293 RSS feeds and only 24 hours in my day, I desperately need to trim this sucker down. I used to be able to “hit zero,” also known as reading all my RSS items, but lately it has been impossible. I could have done this in private, during my own time, but one man’s garbage is another man’s treasure. By going through my entire list of 293 RSS feeds, 10 feeds a day, I hope that I can point you to some new sites and services you may have never heard of. I also have a strong ethos regarding sharing. If I find something interesting, awesome or worthy of attention, I share it with my friends and with the world on my Twitter account. I expect people to do the same and at the end of the day we, as a people, will put an end to boredom. I break the law too with my heavy use of bit torrent, but that’s another story all together.
Here it is, my OPML file: my nugget of black tar heroin.
Let the trimming begin:
- Daily Mobile: A site that has little in the way of original content, but they manage to post a lot of real world (read: not Photoshopped to hell press shots) photos and videos of devices. For some strange reason it is in my RSS reader without a title, this is a good time to rename it to “Daily Mobile.” Decision: It’s worthy.
- .CSV (aka Comma Separated Values): This guy hasn’t blogged since April 2008. I remember why I subscribed to this blog, this post on group think and mapping social behaviours is brilliant. He may blog again, and when he does it has a high chance of being interesting. Decision: It’s worthy.
- 1000heads: If you’re into social media, check this site out. They used to work with Nokia managing device loans to bloggers like myself and to setup events. Personally, I’ve had it up to fucking here with reading about social media. Decision: Garbage.
- 140characters: This is a blog about what people are doing with short amounts of text. It talks about Twitter, status updates, social media, etc. This blog post about how Twitter was born, which is a highly recommended read, was why I subscribed to this blog in the first place. Today however, I could care less. Decision: Garbage.
- 2008 JavaOne Conference News: When events happen, chances are the main event website will have an RSS feed for you to keep up on what’s happening. I think I subscribed to this because I wanted to know more about JavaFX, which at the time was advertising itself as a competitor in the Rich Internet Application space. Today however, I could give two shits about Rich Internet Applications. I use only one: Twhirl, a Twitter client, and I know a lot of you on Twitter probably use TweetDeck, both are built on Adobe Air. The future is HTML5 based applications and web standards in general. JavaFX may be free and open source, but it is made by Sun and anything with the word Java in it freaks people out. Adobe has Air, which integrates web based technologies with added PDF and Flash support, but Adobe makes you use their tools to get the most out of Air; their tools are not fucking cheap. Microsoft has Silverlight, and their main thing is: we not only give you web technologies, but really deep integration with our .Net Framework. Wonderful, but really, you’re just going to be stuck to another vendor. Give me HTML5, OGG video, open standards like those that birthed the Internet, or get the hell out of my way. Decision: Garbage.
- Adam Greenfield’s Speedbird: Adam works for Nokia, he is the head of design direction, but I forget exactly what he is working on. People like to call themselves bleeding edge, early adopters and other ego stroking terms of endearment, but in reality most are not. Installing an alpha piece of software or using a service with a limited number of invite only users doesn’t make you cool. Adam on the other hand, the way he thinks about how things will work in the future, the places he has been to around the world, the interesting talks he has given about how digital technology overlaid on top of a city changes the very basic understanding of what we know to be called a community, make me think he is hiding a DeLorean in his garage. He is so far into the future that after every conversation I have with him, I look around my world and kick myself in the ass for wanting it to be 2020 already. Decision: Ultra fucking worthy.
- All about Microsoft: Microsoft, the company that everyone loves to shit on, is responsible for putting a computer on everyone’s desk. Few people acknowledge that. Few people acknowledge that Bill Gates is out there right now trying to cure diseases and solve real world problems with the billions he made with his “monopoly,” while Steve Jobs parks his Mercedes in handicap spaces and eats children’s souls for breakfast to stay young and healthy (I kid Steve Jobs, I hope he makes a full recovery!). Microsoft has an R&D budget that makes investors angry due to it being so large, but Microsoft just keeps on looking forward into the future. Mary-Jo Foley is the best Microsoft blogger on the planet, and she practically knows everyone at the company. Watching where Microsoft goes, even though they may not be the most agile company, highlights larger trends that are occurring in the digital computing space. Decision: It’s worthy.
- All About Symbian: I use Nokia phones. Nokia phones run Symbian. All About Symbian is the best Symbian blog for several reasons: the gang has been using Symbian devices since … well hell, since forever! They know the platform in and out. They write objective and detailed reviews and talk about Symbian as a part of the greater mobile telecoms ecosystem, versus talking about Symbian as some sort of cure for cancer and that by using a competing mobile platform you’ll get full blown AIDS. Decision: It’s worthy.
- AllThingsDigital – All Videos: An RSS feed that shows me all the videos produced by the Wall Steet Journal’s All Things Digital section. I subscribed to this a long time ago so I could keep up to date on the joint Steve Jobs and Bill Gates interview. Now however, I don’t really care. If they make a cool video, chances are it will be linked to by a blog I read or tweeted by a friend of mine. Decision: It’s garbage.
- AnandTech: Mobile phones are cool, we all get that, but my roots are with PCs. Few people know this, but I used to work for HyperSonic PC Systems as the guy who decided which products we would offer our customers. Admittedly I don’t keep track of video cards like I used to, and I don’t have a water cooled computer any longer, but I still read AnandTech since the site is just awesome and the people there are super bright. Articles like this one, that talk about different sockets, the impact that the size of your L2 cache has on latency, and a preview of the benefits of integrating a northbridge on the die, still make my private parts tingle. Decision: Ultra worthy.
Hope you enjoyed Episode 1, with 10 links per episode, 293 RSS feeds, that is 30 episodes.
Can’t wait to share more! Throw some links to sites you love below and why I should read them.
Quick Edit: Fixed the AnandTech link, thanks for the tweet, and just wanted to say expect episode 2 on Monday. This will be a Monday to Friday series.