From Google Reader to MyAlltop

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:

  • MyAllTop is easy to scan, i.e., read because of the newspaper-style 3 columns of blocks, compared to My Yahoo!’s big horizontal blocks (maybe there’s a way to get the layout of your liking, but I couldn’t find it).
  • When you mouseover a link in Alltop/MyAlltop, it will show a few paragraphs from the article which makes it easy to discern whether the title is misleading or if the article is really interesting.
  • The Alltop directory is very useful (which reminds me of the origins of Yahoo! – a directory of websites) in finding the best blogs on a particular topic, which is a harder problem than I imagined. I don’t know if Google Reader’s “bundles” had solved this problem, but I definitely find this a good resource.
  • I used to regularly visit to read the latest news but used to get annoyed by irrelevant-to-me blocks. Now I can just add the ones that I’m interested in to MyAlltop page.

In the end, I’ve switched from Google Reader to 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.

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Jamie Larson