Wednesday, 20 July 2011

Thing 4 - Current awareness: RSS

I originally wrote thing 4 as one blog post but it turned into an epic post so I have split it into 3 separate parts - RSS, Twitter, and other tools. I've been a fan of using social media for current awareness for a while now. Managing it is my current challenge so for this thing I took the opportunity to tidy up my RSS and Twitter feeds (as well as take a quick look at Pushnote).

RSS feeds

I've been an avid user of RSS feeds for a number of years now, mainly using them to subscribe to library blogs. When I first started blogging in 2007 (and following other blogs before that), most of the library bloggers I could find were based in the US. RSS meant that I could read all about the innovative things they were doing at the libraries and I found it really inspiring. Some of these have since stopped blogging, but there are a number of these who I still subscribe to and love reading their blogs. I feel I should particularly mention (and recommend you subscribe to) Attempting Elegance, Pegasus Librarian, The Sheck Spot, and Information Wants To Be Free.

Now there are many more library bloggers in the UK, including a lot of new professionals. I enjoy reading those blogs too, as well as some of the newer library bloggers in the US such as Library Hat and Library Scenester (both of whom I got to meet at ALA Annual!). Over the years I've collected more and more feeds and it's beginning to get out of control, particularly when some of those I subscribe to post very frequently (particularly tech blogs but also some library blogs like Stephen's Lighthouse).

It was definitely time for another weed of my feeds, so today I used Google Trends to identify the feeds from Google Reader which are no longer active, as well as any I'm just not reading. I get a lot of my news from Twitter now, so I don't need the more general feeds I used to subscribe to such as tech news feeds.

I used to be pretty good at keeping up to date with my feeds, starting each morning with checking overnight emails and RSS and checking them throughout the day on my start page. But my habits and work patterns have changed and I've gotten out of the habit of checking them frequently, often to the point where I actively avoid opening my feeds for fear of how many unread items I will find. Just look how infrequently I've been checking them recently!

My reading habits for the last 30 days (the  blue bars show items published, orange bars show items read)
So as part of my clean up, I reorganised my Google Reader folders too. I have a folder of favourites (which I call A* feeds so that the folder is always on the top) and folders for other topics such as library blogs, crafts and gluten free. If I'm behind on my feeds, I can just look through the A* feeds folder which are the blogs I don't want to miss.

I also share interesting feeds on my shared items list which is publicly available (feel free to subscribe if you wish or follow me on Google Reader). I have to confess find the sharing system a little flaky though, so I also share these items to my Twitter account using Reader2Twitter. This shares the title of the post, the URL, and any notes you want to add (I use notes to add Twitter hashtags or usernames of the author or people I think might be interested).

So that's my RSS feeds organised, now time to organise Twitter...

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