I use Google Reader to keep up with blogs that I think might be useful to me in my own blogging and columnizing.
Actually, that’s being far too generous to myself. For days, sometimes even weeks at a time, I use Google Reader to keep up with the 16 blogs whose feeds I’ve subscribed to. There are many other blogs and news sources that might be useful to me, but I don’t subscribe to them because of what happens already with my mere 16 feeds: I miss a day, or two, of checking Google Reader, and then the sheer number of unread posts begins to weigh upon me. I start actively avoiding Google Reader. I see the link on my browser toolbar and it shames me. I don’t click on it. I stop looking at my browser toolbar. I stop looking at my browser. Etc.
Finally, on some afternoon or evening when I have a bit of free time, I go into Google Reader, take a cursory look at the hundreds of posts there, click “Mark all as read” and start over.
For obvious reasons, then, I’ve been meaning for a while to take a look at the semi-famous video, posted a couple months ago by Tim “4-Hour Workweek” Ferris, in which superblogger Robert Scoble explains how he gets through 622 feeds on Google Reader every day. And the answer is … (1) he looks at the headlines, (2) he looks at the graphics, and (3) he looks at who the author is, and makes a split-second decision whether to read the post or not. Here’s the video (it’s more than 11 minutes long and appears to have been filmed by a four-year-old, so carve out some time and take a Dramamine before you click play):
My biggest learning (as Alan Mulally would say) is that Scoble still spends an awful lot of time staring at his Google Reader. (“I can’t belive [sic] this guy has time to make babies,” wrote one commenter on the video.) I don’t want to spend that much time staring at my Google Reader. Yet now that I write a blog and work at a newsweekly, I sorta have to keep up (when I was at Fortune I would sometimes go weeks without even looking at a newspaper; I had books to read and people to interview, and figured that really important news would find me). Anybody got a better way?