On How I Read, Part 2

The single greatest invention of the past thirty years or so, as far as infovores on the internet are concerned, are blogs. There is absolutely no question about this, but blogging has changed immeasurably, and for the better, the amount of information, wisdom and nuance that is publicly available.

I graduated with a Masters degree in the year 2006, and blogs were only just beginning to take over my consciousness. But within a span of less than a year, the number of blogs that I followed had grown exponentially – and this was possible because of a great little idea called RSS. Really Simple Syndication. People of a certain age and of a particular persuasion might heave a nostalgic sigh in fond memory of Google Reader, but today’s post is about its replacement: Feedly.

Feedly allows you to subscribe to a large number of blogs all at once, and it does the heavy job of visiting those blogs and checking if they have been updated. And if they have, it “fetches” either the entire post or a snippet of it (depending upon what the blog owner permits). You can then read it very quickly, and do what you will with it.

Here is what my Feedly, well, feed looks like right now:

Feedly Snip

So rather than visit each of those blogs separately (and there are 78 of them, as of right now), I simply visit one website, Feedly, and get to read all updates in one place. I’ll leave the setting up of your personalized experience of Feedly to you and the internet (but feel free to reach out if you think I can help)

I’ll freely admit to the fact that when I scroll through the list above, I will not read every single post, and I’m fairly sure this is true of everybody who uses Feedly intensively. There is simply too much stuff to read, and you’ll only end up depressing yourself if you try to read every single post.

What I do is I have a select list of blogs that I will tend to read for sure (Marginal Revolution, as an obvious example), and some authors that I will tend to read more often than not (columns by Paul Krugman, essays by Dan Wang). And for other posts, I depend on the following, in no particular order: does the headline seem interesting? Is it a topic I am interested in right now? Have quite a few other people linked to it?

That third point is worth elaborating on:I might not open all links authored by Paul Krugman, for example, but if Mark Thoma refers to a particular column, I probably will read it. If both Tyler Cowen and Mark Thoma link to a piece, I most definitely will read it.

In today’s parlance, I will wait for a link to “bubble up”, but the bubbling up has to be by people I trust. Social media bubbling up a post receives far lesser weightage in my framework.

Out of the 176 unread articles in my Feedly list right now, I’ll end up reading maybe 40. And I don’t tend to fret over the ones I didn’t read. I’ve been doing this for over 11 years now, and I’m not saying it’s a perfect system, nor am I saying it will work for everybody – but I am saying that I am more than ok with it for myself.

Finally, people who write blogs that aggregate interesting links from all over the place are people truly worth following. Ajay Shah’s blog, Mark Thoma’s blog, Barry Ritholtz’s blog and Marginal Revolution alone can keep you busy for hours. If you are looking for blogs to start off with on your own Feedly list, these would be my picks. But add more, it goes without saying.

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