Pruning blog posts from syndication feeds

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Update 06/11: PostRank appears to still work, but they have been bought by Google (not a big surprise…). We are waiting to see if the Social First top-down strategy that Page is implementing will cause PostRank to atrophy or shut down anytime soon. There is a Chrome/Safari plugin that works with Google Reader, too.

Update: FeedHub is dead. It’s been deceased for almost a year now. Their parent company mSpoke shut the free news feed authority weighing system. I have replaced FeedHub with another free feed weighing service, PostRank. It’s not as convenient to use. All your feeds are not combined into one feed. If you have over one hundred feeds that you subscribe to, you will want to export an OPML file (collection of feed URLs) and import that file into your feed reader. You do however have the option within each feed to allow either all, good, great, or only the best ranked news feed articles.

Original Article: Whether you believe that micro-blogging and syndication feeds provide too much information and makes us either dumber or smarter, information overload has been here for a while. Even though, Microsoft Internet Explorer has had an RSS button for two versions, I would say that syndication feeds are still not mainstream, yet highly valuable that you can feast on such a cornucopia of information without browsing to a single web page. Think of syndication as requested email (in juxtaposition to the majority of your Inbox, right?). If you are in the anal-retentive 43 folders crowd, you’ve probably already have a syndication feed management process in place for two years. If you haven’t and the thought of having to browse through 100 new blog posts every day is overwhelming, I recommend FeedHub.

I use FeedHub to provide me with the “most popular” blog posts from over 80 sources. As a web designer, I have a plethora of blogs to choose from.¬†Some recommend if you don’t regularly get to read your feeds you have too many in your feed reader that you should declare RSS bankruptcy (similar to email bankruptcy). Another option is to create categories so that one category is for your “read all posts from these providers” and some is your “if I have time, read these posts.” I do not prefer this latter method, since I like a well-rounded mix of graphic design, programming (mostly front-end, but a little back-end), social media, blogging, and user interface posts. It is difficult to draw upon raw feeds to receive a variety of information. Some websites can be quite prolific. Do you really want to browse the headlines of all 23 posts from Mashable yesterday?¬† Probably not, unless you are one of the thousands of social media experts on Twitter.

What’s most popular?

I mentioned above that FeedHub only provides the “most popular” blog posts. I don’t have the exact details–that would be similar to figuring out Google’s PageRank, but I know that you can set preferences for certain blog tags over others in order to customize your reading. You can also set that you want the articles with the most comments or links to them. It’s all part of a machine they call mSpoke.

I like the idea. Where do I start?

You can import an OPML of my “daily feeds” (Right Click/Save As…) into FeedHub, if you think we would have similar tastes. My original list of blogs to read came from a computer science department of a university that I’ve now forgotten, and I’ve slowly added graphic design and social media oriented blogs. You can find a sample of my daily feed reads at the bottom of the Interactive Llama sidebar.

Going forward

For most of us, how connected we are is a lifestyle decision. You can always unplug to hike through the Canadian Rockies or to spend time with your children, unless your job mandates you reply to be “on call” and reply within five minutes. If you are in a creative, forward-thinking job (like a web designer at an agency) then, I highly recommend this hybrid of reading RSS feeds–but not too many, so that you are not overwhelmed, but do stay informed.

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