A Structure and Strategy for Subscribing to RSS Feeds
At the most recent KM Chicago meeting a familiar subject came up during our discussion – what KM blogs do you follow? What feed aggregator do you recommend? Given that I hear this question frequently, and I think that I have a pretty good system going, I thought I would share some of my own tips and tricks for following many blogs.
It’s not all or nothing
Folder structure is key
My approach for following a number of blogs is totally dependent on my use of a tiered folder structure. For demonstration purposes, lets say I follow 100 KM blogs. 15 of those are probably ones that I find really insightful, another 30 or so I enjoy reading on a pretty regular basis, and the rest I tend to read when I can. So in Google Reader, I have three folders set up that reflect this:
Finding blogs, rating blogs
Now, I know it’s a lot, but trust me, subscribe to all of the feeds listed. Then, start reading through them when you get the opportunity. Fairly quickly you’ll get a sense of the blogs you really like, the ones that are good, and the others that just might not be crucial reading for you. Once you do, start assigning each feed to a folder. It won’t take long to get the basic structure in place. You’ll continue to adjust the settings over time, but I’ve had this setup going since about 2006 and it has been very sustainable for me. I don’t read everything, but I don’t have to. I used to be concerned I would be missing something interesting in the KM3 folder that I would rarely get to, but the odds are if it’s something that is really interesting, it would eventually be covered by one of the blogs in my KM1 or KM2 folders.
So like you may have asked earlier – why bother subscribing to the other blogs at all then?
Personalized KM searches
A real life example I can share is when I recently began to do research into expertise location tools, techniques, and examples. Rather than going to Google, where I would get a mix of good information, outdated information and ads, I used the search functionality within Google Reader. Here, the benefits of subscribing to a number of KM sources is very helpful:
- It allows for a focused search from sources I already trust and am familiar with
- Adopting a tiered folder structure allows me to essentially sort my results by trustworthiness and familiarity
- Being populated with just KM blogs automatically weeds out a number of irrelevant hits I would have received doing a standard search on Google
- If I have questions about the material presented, it is easy to reach out and ask for more details because I’m usually familiar with the author by having followed them for a period of time
- Find a folder structure that works for you
- Subscribe to as many feeds as you can, sort and cull the list over time
- Read what you can, query the rest when you need it