How to aggregate information from the Web (Part 1): RSS and Google Reader

The Web is a massive information horde, and generator. I currently follow* about 70 over sites and blog and that translates to a lot of information in a day; yet I know some friends who access much more sites than me. How do we keep up and make sense of it?

This is the first of a three part-er post to help you aggregate the information.

RSS and Google Reader

Say hi to RSS and Google Reader.

I’d leave the technicalities of what RSS is to Wikipedia; let me talk about the implications of using RSS. Let’s say there’s you frequent TOOZE but don’t want to always have to visit the site to check if there’s new articles posted; you want to be notified of the availability of new posts in a convenient manner. Extend that to 70 sites and blogs and you’d realize how convenient it would be if I could access all the headlines in one place, so I can quickly decide on what I want to read and what I want to skip.

That’s what RSS and Google Reader do.

Here’s how it works. I go to a site (say TOOZE), like it and want to be kept updated on new posts. So I log into Google Reader (with my gmail/Google credentials; create one if necessary) and click on “add new subscription”.

Screenshot of Google Reader

Then I type in the home URL for the site I’m interested in (or the RSS link shown on the site) – in this case tooze.wordpress.com, and the subscription is found in the left hand column of Google Reader.

Now, whenever I’m free and want to check out the new posts on the site, I log into my Reader and I’d be alerted of all new posts (shown in bold with the numbers representing the post count). As you can see from the screenshot, I’ve got a few new articles to check out.

The best part about this is that I have all the websites I’m interested in in one location, which allows me to skim through on average 200 feeds (headlines) a day without being overwhelmed. So check it out and suddenly you’d find yourself reading more in less time; furthermore you are able to focus on the things you are interested in, while having the freedom to skim through everything.

That’s all for Part 1! Stay tuned for how we can manage it better and access these information on the go.

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*Not in the sense of Twitter’s follow, but rather in the sense that I refer to them on a daily basis, and read those that interest me.

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