The murmur of the snarkmatrix…

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How Do You Follow The Web?

Me, I subscribe to a lot of sites, so I get auto-updated. I use an RSS reader, NetNewsWire, with Google Reader as a woefully unsynced backup. I keep feeds sorted into folders by category, and I just tweaked the categories:



books and libraries


digital life


friends’ blogs

friends’ personal








must reads

my blogs


online mags




tv and movies

I also have a couple of things emailed to me semi-regularly: new comments or links to Snarkmarket, Counterfictionals, or Short Schrift, mentions of my name, and new search results for “blood and treasure.” (Weird, I know.)

How do you do it?


Two tweaks.

To understand the first one, you have to know that I treat all RSS as optional; I’ll frequently just dump whole folders of unread items in Google Reader if I’m feeling overwhelmed.

So, I do have one folder/tag called “super follow” that basically means: I don’t want to miss a single thing from any of the blogs/feeds in this folder. It’s a mix of some friends’ blogs, some must-reads like Kottke and Tomorrow Museum, and some writers, designers, etc. I feel like I just really want to keep track of. I don’t want their work to slip past me.

The second one is a folder/tag called “tryout” that I put all new feeds into. If I find myself actually reading items from the feed, I’ll migrate it to a real folder. If not… adios.

My folders/tags are: basic news, books lit media, code, design, games, global, iphone, local, music, people i know, policy, politics, vanity, web biz. And the forementioned super follow and tryout.

My “design” folder/tag is a lot like the “Society/Culture” category at Snarkmarket: Woefully broad and overutilized. I should break it up, but I’m not sure how.

Your “super follow” is a lot like my “must reads” – I’ve got Kottke, Ebert, Kevin Kelly, Gina Trapani, if:book, things, the Big Picture, Heffernan, and Jonah Lehrer in there, plus a few others. I used to have a big “friends” folder, but I just split it into “blogs” and “personal.”

The “tryout” folder is a smart idea; I just made a new folder called “temp.”

I’ve tried sorting purely by level of attention (like Jason), but I just can’t do it. Partly it’s because my level of attention varies from day to day depending on the topic — there are days when I don’t care at all about politics, others where I give new software a total pass, still others where I try to block out the news… all of which can completely command my attention on other days.

I don’t read feeds! I just look at my Delicious Network, my Livejournal friends, my Flickr friends, Twitter. It all comes through. (I cheat and have a set of feeds in Google Reader for book nerd & digital humanities blogs, but I only check that once in a while when I’m really bored.)

I love it! A hypoallergenic filter of friends. (Can we call this “meat-filtering”?)

Reminds me of the old saying in Chicago politics: “we don’t want to see somebody who nobody’s sent.”

Jake says…

I’m a Google Reader man. I currently follow about 75 feeds as a river (all items in list form). I find this quite efficient compared to checking them one by one, as I did when I started using RSS. Some say GR is too bland and sterile. I think that’s a feature: like people at the DMV, all feeds are equal.

However, the river has caused me to cut down on reading webcomics and funny stuff (only xkcd is left). They seemed jarring alongside the serious stuff, and my RSS is now a machine to sift out “meatier” (mostly textual) material that piques my nerdy esoteric interests. Like Tim, I don’t think separating feeds by importance or reading frequency would work for me, but then I don’t have hundreds of them (yet), and if they get noisy I’ll more likely use a filtered Postrank feed.

I star stuff I like and/or mean to read soon in GR. If I find it valuable I tag it on delicious. I often search these growing “clip files” as soon as Google for related information on some new development, like an outboard memory-bank. I wonder what this will be like with decades of material tagged…

I actually don’t get general news by RSS (plenty of local & specialized tech news though). I’m old-fashioned enough to think that one ought to at least skim a daily newspaper or two – I’m loving the NYT’s new interface. Then I check techmeme and sometimes memeorandum to round things out.

I’m reminded of this comment on the types of social media consumers. I think I’ve become more of a Discoverer, but I try to be mindful of potential adjustments I could make in the opposite direction.

The snarkmatrix awaits you

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