Processing Email and RSS Similarly

One of the problems that RSS newbies often encounter is treating RSS items like email and expecting that each item needs to be read. A recent Ars Technica article explores the notion that keeping up with RSS is a bad idea.  I’m not going to suggest exactly how much information you should take in, but I find that I process email and RSS in a similar fashion which seems loosely based on David Allen’s two-minute rule for email processing.

One-Minute Email & RSS

As I scan my inbox or incoming RSS feeds (with RSS feeds being scanned in a priority-based order), I quickly deal with any that I can take care of in a minute or two.  This includes reading short email messages or crafting quick (one paragraph) responses.  On the RSS side, it means skimming headlines and reading short articles that won’t take more than a minute of my time.  For anything that requires more than a minute (either reading or replying), I send it elsewhere and move on.

More-Than-Minute Email

My method for email that requires a longer read or response is to star the item in Gmail for later processing.  After an item is starred, it moves to its own section in Gmail’s priority inbox so it’s easy to find and work through these items.  I have a task in OmniFocus that reminds me to process these messages at least once a day.

Reading Longer RSS Items

For longer articles, I send the article to Instapaper (as noted in my recent “how I read” article).  The iPad is the perfect device for consuming longer text and I’ll read these articles as I have time on my device of choice.  I use Reeder on my iPhone and iPad; sending articles to Instapaper is a simple gesture.


How you process email and RSS isn’t important but you’ll need to find a system that works for you. I’ve found that my system (process the quick things, defer the longer things) works for me.

Reeder for Mac: If You Use RSS, Get This App Now

Some months ago, I heard that there was a version of Reeder (my iOS RSS app of choice) being developed for OS X. I didn’t think too much of it, assuming that good mobile UI wouldn’t translate well to good desktop UI. Besides, I can plow through a lot of feeds1 really quickly in Google Reader in my browser.

Last night I bought Reeder via the Mac App Store (app store link – $9.99). Wow. It’s really damn good.

UI

As expected, the UI is beautiful. You can choose from a couple different general views, one of which resembles a view similar to iTunes, Mail.app, etc. and the other is more like the Reeder’s look and feel on the iPad. With either view you have the ability to customize the color tones, textures, font opacity, and so on.

Keyboard Accessibility

One thing that would be critical as to whether I became a Reeder user was the level of keyboard shortcut integration. I plow through feeds at a rapid pace, my hand quickly using the keyboard to move through items, marking them as read (either automatically or manually), opening some items into a browser, and moving between my feed categories. Reeder doesn’t disappoint. It ships with single-key keyboard shortcuts for all imaginable uses including feed navigation, read/unread status, and navigation within the app. Here’s a screenshot of the default keyboard shortcuts – all of these can be changed if desired:

Reeder Shortcuts

Integration With Other Services

Another key workflow piece (and one for which Google Reader is less than ideal) is services integration. Reeder ships with quite a few services offered:

Reeder Services

For me, three are key. I use Instapaper to push long articles for later reading (usually on my iPad). Pinboard is my bookmarking service and how I queue links for my other people say posts. I also have the Twitter integration enabled so I can share interesting finds with my followers. Note that you can enable a custom keyboard shortcut for any of the services. This again allows me to quickly move through items without reaching for the trackball.

It’s a new Primary App

Reeder now has a global hotkey2 and after just a few hours is now part of my information workflow. I’ll have to see how I feel after a few weeks but at this point I can see myself moving all of my RSS consumption to Reeder apps either on my Mac, iPad, or iPhone.


  1. Google tells me I’m currently subscribed to 624 feeds 

  2. Thanks Alfred http://www.alfredapp.com 

Google Reader via a Windows Client App

I love Google Reader, but I will also acknowledge that there are some UI things that are just plain better using a client application designed to run on a particular operating system. That’s why I’ve spent time with FeedDemon in the past (but ultimately went back to Google Reader for their mobile experience).

Last night at the Portland Web Innovators gathering, I had a conversation with Reid about aggregators, specifically mentioning it would be great to have a fat client app that was able to sync with Google Reader.

Today, I see that Dare Obasanjo announced Google Reader sync support in a soon-to-be-released version of RSS Bandit. I can’t wait to check this out. In the comments on his post, he notes the sync will include “mark as read” status as well as sharing – share an item via RSS Bandit, and it’ll end up in your Google Reader shared items feed. Sounds sweet.

[tags]aggregators, feeddemon, rssbandit, googlereader, rss, feeds[/tags]

Twitter Down Again; I’m on FriendFeed

With Twitter suffering once again under a self-caused outage, I’m spending more time on FriendFeed.

Here’s my profile over there. Feel free to add me.

[tags]twitter, friendfeed[/tags]