Drawing from my "Information Coping Skills for Humans" workshop circa 1999
I've been doing Internet skills training workshops since 1995 and way back when I used to do one called "Digital Literacy" which was all about how to use email, listservs, and Internet search functions. I used to include a segment on "TechnoStress" in which I had people create drawings that represented their stress as a way to do some small group discussion. I'd also cover stretching and RSI and how to avoid it ..(in the UK, I made a Freudian slip and called RSI - RSS by mistake ..)
I'm finding that some people's initial reactions to RSS is "OMG, information overload!" Of course, I showed people my bloglines and 233 feeds, but I also told them that I didn't start off with that many and I also give myself permission not to read everything all the time. I also do everything on this list as well. I started off with 5 blog feeds and as I discovered other blogs or resources, I added them gradually. As someone who was trained as a musician, it is the way I used to practice etudes - start at adagio and gradually work up to allegro.
I'm discovering that I'm finding RSS so efficient that I find email annoying. I have a really good spam filter (Spam bayse), I use rules/filters to direct project related email and listserv email to folders, and am fairly good at "zeroing" out my inbox. I also use Google desktop search and search when I need to retrieve. I've also become quite aggressive with people who I am working with and colleagues who send me chit chat email to get on my IM list. (changing habits is another story).
You can create an unlimited number of special Bloglines email addresses that are tied to your Bloglines account. The email addresses show up as subscriptions in your My Blogs page, and email sent to those email addresses appears as new items.
When you create a Bloglines email address, a subscription is added to your account. If you unsubscribe from that subscription, the email address becomes invalid and mail sent to it will bounce.
Email subscriptions are great for announce-only or broadcast mailing lists that don't provide RSS feeds. They are also useful as temporary email addresses.
I have in the past tried to access email from listservs that had RSS feeds. For example, a few in google groups. I stopped doing it because you couldn't see who the email was from and had to click through to read the message. I just set up a few as tests. I hope this sets me free.
I was considering doing a quick and dirty screencast, but while browsing my feeds I noticed that one of my favorite bloghers Amy Gahran (the photo above was taken at BlogHer when we finally met face-to-face) had written about this very topic. (We've done this a lot over the past year or so) Anyway, she has some terrific advice on this topic here.
I also want to point you to Vicky Davis's piece on avoiding information overload with RSS --- There is excellent advice for newcomers to RSS. The article answers these really important human questions:
- So, how do you select your circle of the wise? (Circle of the wise - how many feeds you'll read)
- How do you keep from being overwhelmed?
- How do you fit it into your already overfull day?
She begins with how do you ever fit in reading feeds? Vicky talks about the elephant joke. I always liked the saying - you never eat an entire salami whole -you cut it into small pieces. She reads her feeds in little snippets of the day. I do this myself and I've found having my bloglines on my treo and being able to read while in the car waiting in carpool line to pick up the kids or standing in line at the grocery can be make waiting fun!
She also gives some great advice about how to choose which feeds you read.