Online Reading Rebooted

The problem – I’m receiving far too many emails.

In recent weeks my unread emails have frequently gone over 50, and my total in my inbox has approached 300.

About 90% over what I would like – and have had in the past.

I don’t subscribe to things easily, but since Covid-19, everyone and everywhere I’ve ever been a customer/member of seems to want to email me every other day with updates, tips and ideas.

Much is useful, I just don’t want to devote this much time to keeping up with my emails.

So, an altered approach is required, and some purging needs to be done.

Also, my emails are too much of a mixture of necessary correspondence from/to banks, shops, the children’s school and so on, personal/family correspondence, and a way to follow blogs and websites.

It’s become not only too much, but too messy.

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The answer – 

I’m going to do a couple of things.

First, I’ve started using Feedly, after hearing it recommended a number of times over a period of years. 

Years ago I used Google Reader to follow the RSS feeds of websites, blogs, Flickr streams and more, until Google axed it.

It was replaced (in my world) by a combination of subscribing by email, and following within apps, like Flickr and WordPress.

Again I want to simplify and bring all the regular sites I read together on one page, in one app.

On my MacBook I use the Feedly website, on my iPad I have the app, which is pretty impressive in its simple, clean interface and optimisation of the reading experience.

As I’ve talked about before, the iPad is frustrating for many things, but as a pure reading device on modern sites, it’s pretty near perfect.

I have installed the Feedly app on my (Android) phone too, but not really used it yet – I’d rather use a larger screen for reading, and especially for viewing photographs.

The second thing I’m doing it’s unsubscribing from email lists.

Just to try to keep my inbox purely for the essentials (orders, receipts, memberships and the like), and a little family correspondence, but not also as a “reader” in itself.

With WordPress Reader, I’ve stop following everything, and added my very favourite blogs to Feedly instead, to see how that goes.

Then I’m just using WP for writing and editing my own blog posts, and replying to comments.

Though the WP Reader is pretty good, it can’t follow everything.

Non-WP blogs seem to be a bit hit and miss in terms of whether the WP Reader follows it, whether I then get email notifications, and so on, whereas Feedly seems more welcoming to all kinds of (RSS) feeds.

This is what my Feedly looks like after about a week, on the iPad.

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I really, really like the idea of having one place for all my reading, instead of it being scattered across different sites.

This is one reason I don’t follow social media like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, I just don’t like such a fractured approach, and especially when there’s so much duplication across the different platforms, as everyone feels they need a presence on each.

Also, I check my email every day, because there are genuinely items that sometimes need urgent attention.

But then once I’m in there, I feel the need to read anything else new, to clear it back down to zero unread.

If I put all my reading in Feedly, I can dip into it as often or as infrequently as I like, and continue to check in daily with GMail for more time-sensitive stuff.

The idea of checking in at my own pace, rather than struggling to “keep up” with the pace of other people’s publishing, is something I’ve always tried to do, and this will help revise and strengthen that approach.

Again, back to social media, there’s such a pressure to stay on the pulse – it plays on the dreaded FOMO.

It’s not designed for leisurely, more in depth reading, in the way blogs (and of course books!) are.

I’ll see how it goes with Feedly in the coming days and weeks, and what else I want to add, or remove.

How about you, how do you follow websites, blogs, photos and other sources you like to read and view online?

Please let us know in the comments below (and don’t forget to tick the “Notify me of new comments via email” box to follow the conversation).

Thanks for looking.

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7 thoughts on “Online Reading Rebooted”

  1. This strikes me as a good idea Dan. There was another app I used for a bit ‘Flipboard’ which was meant to be a magazine-like format for your own curation as well (but there was, as ever, some social element of being able to follow others magazines or collections) but I think the feed format must have been proprietary rather than using the RSS standard and of course came with the dreaded ‘algorithm’ deciding that ‘because you read this, you might be interested in this…’
    I’ll give that Feedly a look.

    1. Feedly does have different view options – Title Only, Magazine, Cards, and Article – and all seem to work pretty well for their intended purpose, and whether you want a simple list of new posts (Title Only – which looks much like your email inbox) up to Article – which posts entire articles in the stream. I’m going with Magazine View, so I have the pictures showing, and an intro to the article, especially as many are photography blogs where I wouldn’t want to see just the text.

      Feedly does have this “bot” thing called Leo, and you can “train” him in what you like. But 1. It’s only available in the paid version(s) and 2. I like the simplicty of just a single list of posts with anything extraneous.

      So far I’m really liking it, simple, effective.

  2. I understand your pain with overloading emails Dan. I hate having too much mail and being overwhelmed with information. I did have too much clutter on my previous dying Mac and since I upgraded to a reconditioned 2013 MacBook Pro, I can finally reorganise things and Feedly is an excellent option! I’ve had it on my phone for a few months but I imagine it’ll be even better on a bigger screen.
    For blogs and websites that I follow: WP reader handles the WP posts and for the rest I just keep it under “saved tabs”

    1. Thanks Yuri. WP Reader does work well for many things, but not all, and I just wanted to bring it all together in one place. For following comments on blogs (my own and others) it remains a great option. For pure reading, Feedly seems to be the best option now, for me.

  3. Thanks for the suggestion Dan, I am not familiar with that. I have noticed that with blogs I sometimes don’t get notifications, responses, etc. maybe it’s something I’m doing wrong, but I haven’t noticed it with other platforms. I have cut down on online everything except job hunting.

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