I use a RSS reader and read feeds because it is part of my writing process. Lately, my RSS reading habits have changed. I haven't given up on it completely, but my process has changed. My feeds are organized into folders and the folders ordered by priority. Like a farmer tending his crops, I'd scan through each folder, each feed, bookmarking and annotating what caught my eye, and looking for patterns and connections. This scan, capture, analyze patterns, and write a blog post is a part of my routine.
It still is, but I now use other methods for scanning. It's more like hanging out in a village square or a pub -- conversations, news, and resources come to me. I'm finding new links and posts either through twitter, comments on my blog post, or through people who have linked to me.
So, it's like I have a left brain, orderly, linear way to scan and a right brain, wildly creative way to scan.
I like how Chris Brogan describes his reading goals.
- Reading what friends write.
- Reading about the “new marketing” industry and the tech industry (fishbowl).
- Reading what people recommend.
- Reading off the wall stuff that inspires new thoughts (outside the bowl).
Michele Martin wrote a post summarizing a paper titled How Knowledge Workers Use the Web and pulls out some the classifications referenced in the paper. My RSS reading is mostly information gathering or browsing.
- Finding–Looking for something specific, such as an answer to a specific question.
- Information gathering–Less specific than finding, this is research that’s focused on a particular goal that’s broader-based than simply getting a specific piece of information.
- Browsing–Visiting personal or professional sites with no specific goal in mind other than to “stay up-to-date” or be entertained.
- Transacting–Using the web to execute a transaction, such as banking or shopping.
- Communicating–Participating in chat rooms or forums (remember–this was done in 2002, prior to Facebook and the explosive growth of blogs, etc.)
- Housekeeping–Using the web to check or maintain the accuracy and functionality of web-based resources, such as looking for dead links, cleaning up outdated information, etc.
So, this is the information, knowledge worker part of it -- but how do you keep up? As Michelle Murrain notes the whole process of writing a blog makes you process the bytes of information that flow through.