Jon Udell writes in is entry Heads, decks, and leads: revisited
Yesterday, for example, Steve Gillmor told me that he's feeling overwhelmed by thousands of unread items in NetNewsWire. Yet I never feel that way. I suspect that's because I'm reading in batches of 100 (in the Radio UserLand feedreader). I scan each batch quickly. Although opinions differ as to whether or not a feed should be truncated, my stance (which I'm reversing today) has been that truncation is a useful way to achieve the effect you get when scanning the left column of the Wall Street Journal's front page. Of the 100 items, I'll typically only want to read several. I open them into new Mozilla tabs, then go back and read them. Everybody's different, but for me -- and given how newspapers work, I suspect for many others too -- it's useful to separate the acts of scanning and reading. When I'm done with the batch, I click once to delete all 100 items.
and in today's post entitled Different strokes he writes
I agree. In trying to illustrate a point about scanning versus reading, I'm afraid I fanned the flames of the newsreader-style versus browser-style debate. In fact, the two modes can be complementary. I just bought the full version of NetNewsWire, which exploits that synergy as Brent describes. So does FeedDemon, which this posting prompted me to re-explore.
This highlights a conflict between the traditional 3-pane aggregators that follow the mail or news reader model which implies that every post is important and should be read one by one and web-style aggregators like Radio Userland that present blogs in a unified web-based view reminiscent of an aggregated blog or newspaper. On the RSS Bandit wiki there's a wishlist item that reads
Newspaper view. A summery of unread feed items, formatted by a XSLT stylesheet and displayed as HTML/PDF. Inspired by Don Park. also here
This morning I downloaded FeedDemon to see how it got around these problems for its newspaper view. I found out that it does the obvious thing, it doesn't. From what I gather there is an option to 'mark all items in a channel as read' once you leave the channel. So once you close the newspaper view it assumes every post that showed up in it was read. A heavy-handed approach but it probably works for the most part.
Looks like something else to add to the RSS Bandit TODO list.
I've been thinking that something like this is necessary after reading Robert Scoble's post 1296 newsfeeds +are+ sustainable where he wrote
Here's my workflow:
At about 5 p.m. every day I tell NewsGator to get me my feeds. It is downloading them in the background as I speak.
Then I open each folder that's bold...
Then I only read the headlines. I'm getting very good at ignoring headlines with subjects like "isn't my cat cute?" See, that's another productivity point. Robin probably assumes I read all the crap that people post. I don't. I only read those things that MIGHT be interesting. If I find a headline that's interesting, then I scan the article it is associated with. I don't read it. Just scan at that point. Usually that means reading the first paragraph and scanning the rest for later.
I've found that reading headlines isn't always the best way to find good stuff and wouldn't mind a way to quickly scan all the articles in a category that goes beyond eyeballing a bunch of headlines. However I'm going to avoid Jon Udell's advice about XHTML-izing all the HTML content in feeds is the way to get you there. Been there, done that, not going back. The approach used by FeedDemon is a step in the right direction and doesn't require absorbing the problems that comes with trying to convert the ill-formed markup that typically shows up in feeds to XHTML.