book stack I’ve been on a crusade of sorts lately, looking for unique voices in the blogosphere, to find more interesting and relevant content.  In the process, I’ve been finding better ways to absorb the information I find.  Many of these methods are a change from how I consumed information in the past and I cover five of them here today.

First, of course, I’ve gone through and gotten rid of all the “dead” or abandoned feeds that added unneeded bulk to my daily Google Reader adventures.

Second, I’ve identified my top 10 all stars, and started visiting their blogs directly to read what they’ve written.  This has been a huge improvement for me in getting their point of view on a more personal level, one of the biggest things that I felt I was missing in a feed reader.  By the way, that original list of 10 has expanded to 18 blogs that I visit every day (but hey, that’s another post).  Yes, it takes much more time than a reader, but these people’s work is important to me and deserves more time than a quick scan in a feed reader.

Third, I’ve started to “speed read” in Google Reader.  The difference has been a boon to my information consumption because I no longer try to build each sentence from it’s component words & letters.  Instead, I have been scanning each paragraph, using a visual recognition technique that constructs the concepts the writer is presenting.  This has allowed me to reduce the time it takes to read the feeds in my reader and continue to add more feeds as I come across new & interesting sites.

This has not been easy, as we’re programmed at an early age to read every word, and then practice this function for decades.  Of course all those years of traditional reading builds up a visual library of words & phrases that are more quickly recognized than mechanically assembling each sentence a word at a time.

Fourth, I’ve used the tagging feature in Google Reader to separate out the news feeds from the rest of the blog feeds.  These news feeds I literally scan for keywords and quickly move on it they aren’t new, informative, or otherwise don’t interest me.  The remaining blog feeds, I’ve also tried to tag specific to different genres like blogging, mobile technology, social media and so on.  This way, I can either read the “river of news” of all my feeds from top to bottom, or just focus on a specific genre if I’m limited on time and need to prioritize my reading.

Fifth, the last thing that has been helping me is to perform a “quick glance” at the post in the feed to see if it is visually appealing before starting to scan the text.  This quick glance impression of the post along with looking for the “meat” of the post in the first sentence or two quickly indicates to me if it’s worth continuing to consuming it.  While this has backfired in some instances, I usually find the post again by another blog pointing to it, and I give it more attention on the second pass because of this.

So these are my latest methods and techniques to consume content faster and give me back a few precious minutes each day to use for writing, working, or relaxing.  I don’t know if any of this is of value to you, but it’s how I currently handle a growing number of feeds.

Oh, and one last thing – three of my latest “top bloggers” jumped from “oh, this is an interesting blog” to my top list in less than a week – and I have my original 10 bloggers to blame thank for linking to more quality bloggers! 😉

Photo credit, austinevan

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