I have streamlined the system that I use to gather and process information. It meets the following criteria:
- Cross Platform – I want to be able to use a Windows, Mac, iPhone, Droid, iPad and have everything synced. If I read an article on one device, it should be marked read on all of them. If I add a source to one device, it should be added to all.
- Cloud – It has to be backed up online. It also needs to be viewable through a browser but have the option of downloading to go offline.
- Cheap or Free.
- No new Programs to install on my PC.
- Easy to add articles to Twitter and Facebook. (So people think I am smart)
Most blogs and websites have an RSS Feed. You take that feed and plug it into an RSS Reader and it tells you when the site has been updated. So instead of going to 25 different sites a day and hoping there is new content, the RSS Reader will display all this information on one page.
I chose Google Reader as my RSS Platform because it’s the industry standard and most apps syncs to it. It is also free and easy to use.
I found a great article on Life Hacker on how to hook your google reader account to Outlook. Therefore, no new software on my PC.
iPad / iPhone
There is an app called Reeder available for the iPad and iPhone which syncs with google reader. It also allows you to download content to view when you are not connected to the internet. The iPad version is $4.99 and the iPhone is $2.99. As soon as I add something into google reader, it automatically updates the app. It also links to Facebook, Twitter and Instapaper.
After using RSS Readers for a couple of years I have determined that they are best for sites that update once or twice a week. Sources that update hourly tend to drown everyone else out.
For those sites, I use an app on my Ipad called Flipboard. Apple named Flipboard its app of the year, and I have to agree. I don’t have the words to describe it, but its rendering of articles is beautiful and simplistic. Its also free, but it only works on the iPad and nothing else.
Flipboard also makes it very easy to post articles to twitter and facebook, plus lets you look at your google reader account. It also links to Instapaper.
The last piece of the puzzle is the ability to save articles to be viewed at a future time period. There are many times that I am looking at something on my iPhone and want to be able to file it away for future reference. To get this accomplished, I use a program called Instapaper which hooks into Flipboard and Reeder as well as the browsers on my pc and iPhone/iPad. When I see something interesting, I just tag it to Read Later. The service is free.
Besides Dandy Don, the LSU sports website that had no RSS Feed, I process all other information through this method. Before I put this system in place, I was kind of lost in the stream of information. In the end, the web should make your life more efficient, not waste your time in a puddle of mass confusion.