Saturday, September 16, 2006
My Yahoo! & RSS Help Me Cope with Information Overload
Alvin Toffler (Future Shock, 1970) was right: there is SO much information out there that it's often overwhelming and numbing. Even for an above-average Googler, which I have to admit I am.
But I am extremely happy to announce I have found (no: rediscovered) a powerful weapon in the battle against information overload:
(Sometimes the solution to our problems are right under our noses.)
My Yahoo! is Yahoo!'s (duhh) version (there are also Google Reader, My AOL and My MSN and probably countless others) of a Web portal page which one can customize to display current news headlines, stock quotes, local weather, local movie listings, and so on. It's the "and so on" I want to tell you about.
By the way, I say I rediscovered My Yahoo! because my My Yahoo! page has been around and under my nose for years. But until yesterday, I was using only the tip of the proverbial iceberg: I would load it up to see what's playing on TV or, even more importantly, to find out which photos of which tripping-and-falling runway models have been Most-Emailed that day.
Here's what happened yesterday.
I arrived unexpectedly early for an appointment with my accountant, and I found myself in thumb-twiddling mode. On the side table, amidst several "Journals of Accountancy", was the Sep 4 issue of Fortune Magazine, featuring a cover story about the co-founders of MySpace.com. I had heard that these guys recently sold the biz to Rupert Murdoch, and I figured the article would be an interesting read. It was. And so were many other articles (like the one entitled, "When Is a Click Not a Click", about some of the problems with the paid search engine ad programs). Dang if my accountant didn't invite me into her office before I could finish reading "Texas Instruments' Lunatic Fringe"; but she graciously let me take the magazine with me to finish my reading.
Driving home, I went through the not-unfamiliar routine of mildly reprimanding myself for not reading more and resolving to get better. But how? There is so much information out there, and so little time!
Back at my office, as I started to resume the unfinished Fortune article, I had the brilliantly obvious idea to look for it at FortuneMagazine.com. Sure enough, it was there, along with every other article in the paper issue.
"Hmm...," I thought..
"What if I could get notified whenever a new online issue of Fortune is available?"
"What if Fortune could deliver to my desktop the table of contents of each issue as soon as it's out?"
The answer — as some of you already knew and others will have guessed — is that Fortune can do that. And now they do!
All I needed was an RSS Newsreader (a.k.a. RSS News Aggregator, a.k.a. RSS Feed Reader) and the address (URL) of the stuff the RSS Newsreader needs to read.
Problem solved: My Yahoo! is, in fact, an RSS Newsreader; and FortuneMagazine.com was more than happy to give me the addresses of all 9 feeds it offers (All Stories, Top Stories, Markets, Technology, etc.).
What other RSS feeds are out there that I should grab? (When I first set up my My Yahoo! page years ago, I pretty much let the Yahoo! wizard give me the standard package of feeds.) I then embarked on the journey of making my My Yahoo! truly Mine. Before the day was over, my My Yahoo! portal became a neatly-organized compendium of headlines I want to see — not the ones the Yahoo! wizard wants me to.
(By the way, I also programmed an RSS feed of the nSiteful blog and made it available to any of you who would like to add it to your RSS Newsreaders. Just click on one of the links to the left.)
There's much more to talk about on the subject of RSS (oh yeah: the initials are variously associated with "Really Simple Syndication", "Rich Site Summary", and "RDF Site Summary"), but I've got headlines to peruse. So stay tuned...
PS: Between the times I started and finished writing this blog entry, I have added to my My Yahoo! the RSS feeds for A.J. Jacobs' (author of "The Know-It-All") blog, my personal Netflix DVD Rental Queue, and Latest News from Atlanta Business Chronicle.
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