My Thoughts On RSS and My Project

By afilushafilush (1261508283|%a, %b %e at %I:%M%p)

This class is the second time I have been exposed to and used a web based aggregator. I chose Google Reader to combine my RSS feeds, as I value the convenience of being able to utilize the single sign-on with my email and other Google services. My thoughts about RSS have changed as the semester progressed, and this blog will cover my thoughts and how I have used RSS to stay up to to date on the Smartphone Industry.

Initial Thoughts

I was very against RSS to begin with, due both to my previous experience and my initial use again this semester. I didn't feel it was an efficient way to gather and view information. Personally, I believe RSS can add value in two ways to my life in two ways:

  1. Provide me information from many sites all in one place
  2. Allow me to view them right in the reader without traveling to the sites

There were two problems I had with this. The large majority of the sites I was following only offered a short description of what the article was about. Regardless, I had to click on the article and travel to the site to read it. If this is the case, I would much rather go directly to the site to browse through articles. I actually enjoy this process, and I have a specific group of websites that I travel to every morning. Secondly, I infrequently checked my Google Reader account, and therefore the first point of value was minimized. But when I did, I felt so overwhelmed by information and articles that I couldn't effectively synthesize the information.

I decided to abandon RSS and make a bookmark folder to hold all the sites I wanted to visit. I would just attempt to keep up with them on an individual basis.

Thoughts post Change Notification Class

After trying this process for a while, I understood that this was not an effective process for following all the sites I wanted to read. I felt somewhat frustrated with the process in general. Then Class 13 came to the rescue! What I learned about Yahoo Pipes and FeedRinse allowed me to filter my information, easing the massive inflow of information. Sites that were less important or had a lot of false-positives could be filtered to only show me the info I wanted. I decided to sort my sites into three new groups:

  1. Core sites
  2. Other interesting sites
  3. Sites with many false-positives

With the provided tools, I was able further customize my information gathering.

Group 1: Were sites I went directly to daily, and I removed these sites from my RSS feeds. This lessened the amount of content in Google Reader immensely.

Group 2: I applied FeedRinse to this group of semi-interesting sites. These sites had a lot of the content I wanted, but most of it was duplicated from the main sites I attended. So I applied a few filters to these sites to turn them into specific topic blogs. For example, I turned CellPhoneNews.com into a dedicated Google Android Blog by applying filters. Again, the amount of information entering my account was lessened.

Group 3: This group consisted of large news sties that generated a lot of false positives. I wanted to read the stories that applied to my topic, but it took too much time to keep up with all the unimportant information. So I set up a Pipe from Yahoo Pipes to take care of this. I combined the NY Times, CNN and MSNBC news into a feed that was filtered for any news relating to my topic. Then I only had one RSS feed to check for these sites.

Final Thoughts

All these changes and tools allowed me to turn my Google Reader account into a place I could read through content once or twice a week. The information was manageable and all relevant for my topic. I kept up to date using the core sites on my own time, and used these to fill in the cracks. This process allowed Google Reader and RSS to provide the value I desired.

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