Swaroop C H

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From Google Reader to MyAlltop

28 Mar 2009

About six months ago, I had stopped reading all RSS feeds because I wasn't managing my information input well. Over the past few months I was slowly creeping back into the same RSS habit and I didn't like it.

The biggest problem for me was seeing that unread count number*. It was intimidating and I quickly started procrastinating reading the articles, which was ironic, because we mostly read RSS feeds to procrastinate from doing real work ;-)

I thought to myself: "There must be a way to list all my favorite blogs and websites, I can add them and forget about it. Whenever I want to get updated, I just visit the page and read all the latest, and then go away again. There is no need to keep memory of how much I read and how much I did not read."

I started looking at My Yahoo! to list the websites I follow. It allows to add RSS feeds and will show you the latest 5 posts from that RSS feed. But then, MyAlltop came along and solved it more elegantly for me:

In the end, I've switched from Google Reader to my.alltop.com/swaroopch and I'm finding it far more fun to read this way. This is also useful if you ever wondered what blogs I read, it's all in one page.

If you have any other "How to control your information input" tips, please comment.

* And if you wondered that I must be nuts to get bogged down by the unread count number, let me tell you that I'm not nuts, I'm actually a Inbox Zero freak. I tend to reach inbox zero on email every week regularly. If only I could say the same about my todo list...

Update on June 13, 2009: I wanted to try a new idea - to randomly see the list of feeds every time, so I ditched MyAllTop and wrote a small html file that uses Google AJAX Feeds API to display the feeds list. Let's see how this experiment goes.


srid says:

does it keep track of unread/read items? this is the benefit of feed reader - one does not have to 'scan' through the information dump in order to discover new items.

Swaroop says:

@Srid It does not have an unread count, that was the "feature" I was looking for. The point is that I do not want to be thorough about reading feeds, I just like to dip in occasionally to see what's happening and then quickly get out.

Umang says:

Interesting. Just hiding the unread count can make a lot of difference to how we perceive inboxes, feedreaders, etc.

Sridhar Iyer says:

well.. I'm not a big fan of this one. This so so much unorganized. I wouldn't want my all my feeds to be scattered around like that. My RSS feeds are classified into ezines, friends, blogs, finance, photography, comics, non-tech and tech feeds .. I've implicitly attached a priority to each of those and depending on the time and interest I read those or mark them as all read even if I haven't read them.

If you don't want the count, there are tons of ways to avoid that: http://www.google.com/search?q=removing+the+unread+count+from+google+reader&hl=en take a pick. http://userstyles.org/styles/11843 have got some good reviews.

Swaroop says:

@Umang Yep. But then again, statistics are important when the topic is important (i.e. priority) and vice-versa.

@Sridhar Duh, should've searched for that. I agree this solves the unread count problem. However, the "newspaper-style 3 columns" is easier to read than the GReader UI where I have to click on each subscription to see what are the latest stories, it is not possible to "scan" GReader.

Vishal says:

I had written a simple application for a customizable Alltop like feed reader some time back: http://feedsrus.appspot.com/ Allows you to categorize feeds by tags too.

Swaroop says:

@Vishal Nice! It is very close to what I was looking for.


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