I frequently say to colleagues that we are not ‘normal’ internet users, and as such, we need to take a step back sometimes and put ourselves in the shoes of a normal web user. I was reminded of this yesterday when asked a question about something so basic to me that I couldn’t believe it was actually being asked!
The subject of our discussion was RSS feeds. They are a joy to me as by careful use of Google Reader I can keep up with almost everything I need to. I subscribe to hundreds, if not thousands of feeds and opening up Reader each day is like opening a box of chocolates.
“But how do you read them all, how do you keep on top of them all, it’s just a big huge jumble” was the question asked. My seemingly flippant answer was “By magic”
“I know you’re a witch but seriously, I need to know” was the response, at which point I realised he really was serious. A quick look at his feed reader made all plain, it was just a huge list of items in date order, with no hope of anyone being able to keep up with it, let alone find anything useful.
Cue a quick magic lesson…
The first thing to do with your feeds is to sort them into folders. Folders are easy to set up and you should always sort your feeds, even if you only have a few. There will be broad groups and this basic sorting makes the whole magic sorting easier.
When you subscribe to a feed, click on the feed settings drop down and select ‘New Folder’ to create your folder. Just type in the name and it’s all done. Once your folders are set up then you just select the relevant folder from the same list.
(Blurring for client confidentiality)
Once you open your newly created folder full of feeds you are greeted with a long list of items, some of which you will be interested in, some less so – but how to work that out easily? This is where the magic comes in. Open up the ‘Folder Settings’ drop down and select ‘Sort by Magic’.
You will see that your feed order changes in a subtle way with the items that are receiving most attention on the web coming to the top – and that’s not all. Over time, as you open some items and not others, your Reader will learn what interests you most and bring it to the top combining your choices with those of the wider web. To remove already read items, just click on the ‘All items’ button and change it to ‘New Items’.
These two simple filters make your feeds a great deal easier to digest as your priorities come to the top – as if by magic!