exupero's blog


I hadn't used RSS much in the last several years, but I started using it again a few months ago, and I've been pleasantly surprised how it's lightened some mental load. This post collects a handful of tips and tricks I'm currently using in my RSS practice. You're welcome to email me additional suggestions.

Regarding mental load, there are a number of aspects I've enjoyed:

Diffing new content. I often checked Hacker News when there wasn't a lot of new content, but I still had to skim over all the links I'd already considered and either read or ignored. Reading Hacker News via hnrss, however, diffing is done for me: my feed reader only shows the half dozen or so posts that I haven't already seen.

Checking one thing. I don't check a lot of websites, but it's still been nice not to have to remember all the places I could go looking for interesting content, my feed reader checks for me.

No more schedules. Hacker news updates multiple times a day, but XKCD only updates three times a week. With RSS, I no longer have to remember at what frequency I should check various websites; when they have new content they'll tell me. This is especially helpful for blogs that only update every few months or so and I only occasionally think to check.

Fewer emails. I often left email newsletters in my inbox until I could read them, which usually wasn't long since I keep a fairly tidy email indox. When I started using RSS, I discovered Kill the Newsletter, and it's been unexpectedly refreshing not to have extraneous emails that don't require me to do anything other than read them. An added benefit is that interesting reading material like newsletters are now in the same place as my other reading material, rather than some of it being in my email client.

Aggregation. Feed aggregators help surface content I'm interested in by topic but wouldn't have otherwise found. The main one I use currently is Planet Clojure, which surfaced at least one post that inspired a post on this blog. I'm sure there are more I could tap into; let me know if you have suggestions.

As far as my personal setup goes, I'm not particularly demanding. I've been using NetNewsWire on my Mac and iOS devices, and syncing between them via iCloud, and I have no complaints.

Also, if you're interested, in addition to this blog's RSS feed of Clojure posts (which is what Planet Clojure is subscribed to), there's an RSS feed of all posts. If you'd like an RSS feed of posts on a particular topic, just email me.