Organizing RSS Feeds and Making Them More Business Friendly

The other day, I looked at Google Reader and noticed that I had almost 200 feeds coming in.  This was horrendous as it was starting to become quite a bit of a time sink.  Mainly, there were just too many distractions coming in.  I’d read something from one source and that would go down a rat hole to something very different.  The next thing I knew, I was reading Make on how to do LED grafitti in London or something equally crazy. There was also too much duplication going on.  If TechCrunch says something, GigaOm and ReadWriteWeb are also going to say more or less the same thing.   I needed to get a handle on it.I mentioned a couple of weeks ago that I was starting to play with Feedly, a more magazine like RSS reader.  My first glance with Feedly, I really liked it quite a bit, but it needed a bit of effort to get it in a format that worked for me.  As part of my plan to clean up my feeds, I realized that Google Reader just isn’t going to work.  I am going to try to make a 100% migration to Feedly.Here is how I managed it:Deletion of FeedsThe first thing that I did to get organized was to go through all of my feeds and delete a bunch of them.  In doing so, I mentally broke them into three categories, dead feeds, feeds I don’t read and duplicates.Dead feeds are easy as both Feedly and Google reader tell you the last time they were updated.  If something wasn’t updated in the last 3 months, it was gone.  I had about a dozen of these and they all went.  At some point, I’m sure I’ll wonder ‘what ever happened with so and so and go back and re-subscribe.  Until then, gone.Feeds I didn’t read was a bit more challenging.  These were feeds that I subscribed to at one point, probably because I liked a post or two, but then fell out of like and quit reading.  There were probably a dozen or so of these feeds and I think that one or two made the cut this time around. Wired’s blog made the list on this, not because I don’t read Wired, but because I find it annoying that I have to click through to their content.Finally, there were what I termed duplicate feeds.  These are feeds that seem to simply cut and paste from other people’s content. Again, this was a little tricky due to discerning between what people write as original content versus what people just nick from others.When it was all said and done, I was left with 137 feeds.  Definitely more manageable as a long list, but now was time to categorize my feeds.Categorization of FeedsAfter thinking about this over my morning latte, I decided to come up with 9 categories for my feeds.  My goal was to have a nice mix of both work and personal categories and a feedly layout that makes these easier to digest.  These categories are:Customers: I don’t want a set of pre-canned feeds from a customers website or their marketing blog, I want real news.  Since I’m only working on a dozen or so deals per quarter, I set up a Google News feed and a Technorati feed for the customers name.  My goal is to spend 15 minutes each morning just scanning through these and reaching out to customers based on new events.Competitors: Should be fairly obvious, but I’ve grabbed a set of Technorati Feeds and Google News feeds for our top 5 competitors. This allows me to keep track of what is going on with competitors, to learn about new customers and new product announcements.  Seeing the Technorati feeds is realy valuable as I can see what their customers and prospects are saying about them.Socialtext: This is the company I work for.  I keep a set of personal blogs of other employees such as Ross & Alan, as well as a Technorati feed to find new business and learn what others are saying about us.Sales & Self Development: These are feeds that I believe will make me both a better sales person and a better person all around.  Some of this is feel good stuff, some of this is excellent guidance.  Feeds include Hello, My Name Is, Selling to Big Companies & SandHill.com.Technology: I’m a junkie for this stuff, but with more and more companies popping up each day, it is hard to keep up with it.  I’ve gotten it broken out so that I can hit this when I have some free time.  Feeds include engadget, TechCrunch & MashableVenture Capital: At some point soon, I want to launch my own company.  I don’t really get too much into the specifics of deals, but I’m interested in knowing what is hot and what is driving deals as well as how to get funded.  I’ve tried to keep this VC general, but it does include some personal blogs such as David Feinleib, Fred Wilson’s AVC & Alarm:Clock.Internet Famous: This one is probably pretty obvious, but I took the personal blog posts of people who are internet famous.  I don’t mean to be rude about this, but I tend to believe that if my wife doesn’t know who you are, you aren’t famous in the traditional sense, even though I probably think that you are.  Feeds include Louis Gray, Robert Scoble & Joi Ito.Friends & Luminaries: I was originally going to include both my friends and people who are internet famous.  I then decided that I wanted to check my friends sites more frequently.  This isn’t friend like a Facebook friend, but people I actually know and can call or IM and know that I’ll get a response.  The list is short, but important.Fun: Finally, I have a handful, okay, more than a handful, of feeds that really don’t have anything to do with work and end up being a total time sink.  They are great fun though and a wonderful way to kill time on the train.  These sites include Make, ValleyWag & Tool Monger.The whole thing looks like this:

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So far, I’ve been using this method for a few days and it seems to work out well.  It allows me to focus on what is important when I need to and what what I want to learn when I have some free time.Bonus: This set up in Feedly transfers over nicely to Google Reader so I can use my phone to read my feeds.Let me know what you think and what works for you.

Digging on Feedly

I’ve been trying to figure out ways to manage my RSS feeds. I currently have about 200 feeds coming into Google Reader and have recognized for a while that I need to delete some of the redundant ones, I just am having a tough time figuring out which ones should stay and which should go.Enter Feedly, a new service that claims to clean up RSS in more of a magazine format, highlighting what is important to you based on your reading patterns. Almost like my own personal Digg for stuff I’m interested in. Pretty cool and should help anyone from claiming RSS bankruptcy. It should also help in cleaning up my feeds a bit and introducing some new ones that I would have otherwise missed.Louis Gray has an extensive post on Feedly. Rather than recreate everything that Louis has written (which is what turned me on to the service), here is a quick list of the features that I have grown to really like after about 8 hours of usage.

Works with Flock – I’ve installed Firefox 3, but am not too impressed with it. Sticking with Flock for the meantime, so I’m glad that Feedly works with it.Integration with Google Reader – I probably wouldn’t have signed up for another RSS reader, no matter how great the claims of greatness were. I just don’t want to deal with having to re-sign-up for feeds.Sharing seems easy – For whatever, I don’t share feeds all that much in Google Reader. I’ve already shared a bunch of feeds in Feedly. For whatever reason, it just seems easier. Keep an eye out here for my shared sites.The screen saver feature is rad – It throws up visual representations of your feeds. It doesn’t seem to serve any real value, but it is cool.Twitter Integration – This is kind of cool, but I could see in the wrong hands how it could get kind of spammy too. Something would have to be really awesome for me to Tweet somone else’s post. I don’t know, something just seems wrong about that.Comments – One of my complaints about Google Reader was that I couldn’t see comments. For most feeds in Feedly, you can.Something Social – I periodically see pictures of other users, but I can’t figure out what that means. I assume that, long term, that it will be something MyBlogLog like.

My only complaints are that the navigation can be a bit goofy. Sometimes space takes me to the next post and sometimes it pages down. Not really sure what is consistent. Also, the annotation seems to be a bit buggy. I can only seem to highlight and comment on one word at a time.Both are odd and I’m sure that this is a first release issue. What I’ve seen, though, is that Feedly seems really easy to use, clean and may be the way for RSS to get into the mainstream.