Reading Habits — Managing your reading list, bookmarks and RSS feeds

For most of us, much of our lives nowadays revolve around navigating the (Mis)Information Highway where there’s (almost) always something good to read. In the process of doing so, we are bound to come across some information we’d like to keep bookmarked.

When information piles up, how do you keep track of what you’ve read, what you’d love to read and what information you’d like to store for reference at a later date?

Different people will recommend various methods to do the above; here, I will share some of my tips on managing the huge library of information that’s at our fingertips, and I hope you’ll find a tip or two helpful.

Instapaper
I’m sure there are countless times when you’ve come across a great post on a blog or an article that you’d have to put aside until work or chores are done before devouring it with great relish. Most folks will simply bookmark the page. Though that’s one solution, bookmarks on a browser are tied to the terminal, so I prefer to use the free service provided by Instapaper.

Instapaper

Registration is free and straightforward. Once you’re registered, all you have to do is to add a “Read Later” button on your browser’s Bookmarks Toolbar. Now, whenever you come across articles and posts that you’ll have to save for reading later, simply click on the “Read Later” button to add them to your Instapaper account.

Just access your own Instapaper page at any terminal or even on a mobile phone to read them at your leisure. You can even add the RSS feed of your unread articles to your favorite RSS reader.

Neat?

Del.Icio.Us
In this age of “to and fro”, we are never always at one place all the time, so unless you have an ultra-light computer notebook that you always bring with you, there are bound to be situations when you will need to use another terminal to access information that you’ve saved.

As mentioned above, the drawback about bookmarks on browsers is that they are “tied” to the terminal on which the browser sits. If you saved a bookmark on one terminal, it won’t be available to you on another.

This is why I prefer to use Del.Icio.Us to manage my bookmarks — the service gives my bookmarks “legs” and I can easily access my bookmarks anywhere on any terminal with a connection to the Internet.

Del.Icio.Us

What I like most about it, though, is the ability to tag my bookmarks, i.e. I can assign certain keywords to my bookmarks so that I can quickly identify and search for the information I need. For example, I might tag, or assign the keywords, “Christmas”, “gifts”, “books”, to the bookmark of a bookstore’s page so I can easily look it up later when deciding what books to buy for friends at Christmas.

And here’s a bonus reason why I use Del.Icio.Us to manage my bookmarks — in the event of a hard disk crash, I will still have my bookmarks!

Google Reader
When you have been visiting a blog for some time and would like to follow it on a regular basis, consider using the “magic” of RSS feeds to receive updates on the blog in your RSS reader. “Physically” visiting your favorite blogs with your browser is a viable option when you follow only a handful but that’s going to be more of a chore when you have at least 100 blogs on your follow list.

I’ve tried a few RSS readers but have found Google’s to be the best.

Google Reader

Sure, the interface does not give anyone much to shout about in terms of aesthetics, but what I need is speed and ease of navigation, not pretty icons that can bog just about any interface down.

It’s easy to add RSS feeds of blogs to your reader — most blogs today come with a RSS feed icon that you can click on, and even browsers like Firefox 3 have an RSS icon in the address bar that you can click on if the site has a RSS feed and should the former be unavailable.

To further sort your RSS feeds, consider adding feeds to folders so that you can quickly scan what you’d like to read and what you can skip. For example, I sort the blogs I read into “Daily Reads”, “Occasionals” and “Almost Dead” for those that are updated only once in a blue moon.

I also like that I can easily add friends with whom I can share interesting articles with, and vice versa. Finally, as with the aforementioned online applications, I can easily access my RSS feed on any terminal with a connection to the Internet.

Conclusion
I hope that you’ve found this little post on bookmarking and RSS feeds to be helpful to enhancing your reading experience online.

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3 Responses

  1. Great post. I signed up for Instapaper. I use Google Reader and love it, I’ve used it for years now. I never got onto the Delicious thing.

  2. @ Bob Hayton:

    Thank you for visiting this blog, brother. Glad you found the tips useful. 🙂

    Del.Icio.Us does take some getting used to. There are other good add-ons you can use to do the same, e.g. have you heard of Foxmarks?

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