Split Reading

December 27th, 2010  |  Published in etc, mac and iphone  |  1 Comment

Regarding my July tech purge, about which I wrote:

“So today I’m going to experiment with eliminating all of it from my RSS reader and Google News page except the professionally mandated stuff (which is a pretty narrow field) and maybe a few security update sites. Consumer tech, though? Gone. If it’s not something I use, I don’t want to read about it. If it is something I use, I don’t need a columnist telling me what to think about it. If I need to know something, I’ll just go looking. Passively setting up trawls and then sifting through whatever gets caught up in a few keyword searches or catches the fancy of tech bloggers is for the birds.”

I kept to that for a while — right up until around the end of November — then started discovering some consumer tech stuff was creeping back in. Less gadget/hardware (though there was a little of that) and more Web/online.

The default place to put that kind of thing is in my RSS reader, so that’s where that stuff went as it found its way back in. But the list of things I want to be distracted by during the day is still pretty narrow, so having those things in my RSS reader wasn’t a good place for them.

So I ended up taking a lot of those things right back out, then hunting them down in a form I could consume via Flipboard, which is a really lovely app for the iPad that takes Twitter (and more recently RSS) feeds and wraps them in a magazine-like format you can flip through. (Follow the link and look at the video for an idea of how it works.)

For the professional/don’t mind seeing come by during the day stuff, I’ve got a desktop RSS reader with companion apps for the iPhone and iPad. For the stuff I don’t want to catch my eye as easily during the work day, I’ve got Flipboard. When I call it a day in my office, the work stuff pretty much stays in the office, but the things that are more personal are there on the iPad, which is the only computing device I touch after 6 p.m.

One of the nice things about Flipboard is that it will use Twitter lists as well as vanilla Twitter feeds, and that’s caused me to start using Twitter more and more the way everyone else has been using it for a while now: Rather than following hundreds and hundreds of people and institutions, I keep my follow list sort of slim, but have added bunches and bunches of sources to assorted Twitter lists that I subscribe to with Flipboard. I treat Flipboard as a mostly optional reading experience. Something more to be browsed than closely read. It doesn’t nag about how many unread items I have, which is fine because nothing in there (with one set of exceptions) is anything I really need to read. Since it’s easy to flip past stuff that’s not interesting, I feel a little better disposed to outlets that were annoying the hell out of me when they were mixed in with the stuff I really need to think about during the day.

I could use the many canned lists that are (ugh) curated by assorted Web luminaries, but I’ve found those lists are much better as starting points to be raided for good sources and stripped of assorted a-lister cronies and other annoyances. Cruising Twitter profiles for “more like this” lists is pretty fruitful, too.

I also use Twitter lists for the tweetsonae of friends who’ve got commercial or promotional feeds that run parallel to their personal Twitter feeds. It’s a good way to keep out the double (and triple) posts, continue to be open to retweeting or absorbing the promotional stuff (as a good friend should be), and cut down on the workday distractions.


  1. Exposure Therapy :: dot unplanned says:

    March 23rd, 2011 at 9:17 am (#)

    […] get up a little early and sit by the fire reading the things I consider interesting but disposable. I use Flipboard and Twitter lists to skim through the things with which I’d like to have headline-level […]

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