Beaconfire Survey: RSS

Editor’s  note:RSS Each week, we do a survey of Beaconfire staff to get impressions on a variety of non-profit technology issues. All opinions expressed here are solely those of their authors. RSS is becoming ubiquitous, and with the sheer volume of content on the internet, more users are finding that they need a way to manage their content. This week, we asked the Beaconfire staff: How do you consume RSS content?

Eric, Senior Consultant: I aspire to have a complete set of Yahoo! pipes to perform elaborate analyses of of the blogosphere and social media about the the people and issues of importance to me, translates snobby foreign news sources into English to make me seem smart at parties, and otherwise leap tall buildings.

But in fact, I use the built in reader in IE7 to keep track of about 2 dozen environmental and tech/marketing blogs.

Ali, Marketing Consultant: I’m a fan of Google reader. It’s one of the easiest readers to set up, I can access it from any computer and I can track all the marketing and technology blogs I follow.

Amy, Functional Consultant: RSS is everywhere but I pro-actively consume RSS in two ways.  One is iGoogle – I use Google as my browser home and have set up a HOME tab with news (CNN, Top Stories), Weather, Moon Phases, HowTo Wiki and, of course, the BeaconfireWire feed.  My iGoogle also has an IA/UX tab with my favorite industry feeds (Boxes & Arrows, A List Apart, UX Matters, etc).  

I also use Bloglines to manage RSS feeds.  Bloglines has more advanced functionality than iGoogle in terms of managing feeds and I like how it lets me save articles in the feed queue for later so I can go back and re-read them when I have time.

Paul, Software Engineer: This may brand me as a neo-Luddite, but I don’t use RSS.  I’ve always preferred to actively seek information on a website rather than subscribing to a feed and having it delivered to me.  The moral of the story?  Make sure content that’s available in RSS feeds is conveniently indexed in HTML format on your website as well.

Marissa, Functional Consultant: RSS (like Web 2.0) is one of those technologies that isn’t really new, and has really always been around in some form. And everyone who uses the Internet probably consumes an RSS feed in one shape or another, even if they don’t know it. If you see a list of “latest news” on a web site in the past few years, you’ve likely consumed RSS content.

For my personal RSS use, I love Netvibes. The tabbing and rearranging let’s me keep my most important RSS Feeds up in the forefront, while allowing me to easily organize secondary feeds that I like to read from time to time.

Kate, Administrative Assistant: I’m obsessed with tracking the weather, both on my home laptop and on my iPhone. Especially since I’m new to this whole “East Coast Weather” thing, and I don’t have any windows at my desk, I use my iPhone to see what the weather’s like downstairs at least 5 times a day. I also check the weather in my hometown, as well as in Paris, London, New York, and Portland. I just like to see how we stack up. I also track stocks on my iPhone that I’ve not invested in, but I think I get some sick pleasure in watching other people lose their shirt. I guess a touch of schadenfreude’s good for the soul.

Kristin, Project Manager: Honestly, I don’t consume any RSS. I can’t even keep up with email (which is my primary "dashboard") so why add another "feed" to my list of things to try and keep up with.

John Brian, Marketing Consultant: I use a single Netvibes page as my portal at both work and home – it’s the only way I can avoid getting buried in content. I triage my content into pages – must-read items like my email, a couple political blogs, weather, and, most importantly, Beaconfire Wire live on the first tab, fun and goofy stuff, including Digg and my comic alert feed on the second (when you get the rest of your newspaper online a la carte, it’s important to get Dilbert and Doonesbury that way too), clients and other non-profits on the third, work-related tools, like Central Desktop and Basecamp on the fourth, and occasionally interesting, but non-required reading on subsequent tabs.

The key is making use of preview tooltips and titles to quickly and ruthlessly mark items as read – I’m not someone who deals well with unread items, either in my inbox or my feeds. But in the net, using RSS keeps me from having to check more than 100 sites several times a day, so it’s a real time-saver.

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