Throughout January, The Social Path is running daily tips on how to improve your social life — online, at least. Click here to learn more.
When you first learn how to use RSS subscription, it's easy to get carried away. Next thing you know, you've got thousands of unread posts, and Google Reader has become just another inbox you dread opening.
If that sounds like you, try experimenting today with a few other options for reading your favorite RSS feeds. I can't say that any one approach is best for you, because we all use these subscription tools differently. But maybe you'll find that one of these is right for you:1. Streamline Google Reader with "Better GReader"
This Firefox add-on gives you a whole swath of new options for using Google Reader. My favorite are the multiple "skins" you can browse, such as the Helvetica-based "Helvetireader." I personally prefer the "Optimized" skin, which strips down Google Reader into its most useful essentials and subtly improves the font.
One downside: Since it's a browser add-on, you'll still go back to the standard Google Reader interface when you check in from another machine. But chances are good that you're doing most of your RSS reading from one computer anyway.2. Get a real-time, ticker-style updates with Snackr.
I love how Snackr works, which is to scroll your newest RSS subscription updates across part of your monitor. But honestly, I love it too much and simply can't use it at work. With so many other distractions in social media, I don't need another stream of fascinating data to snag my attention.
That said, if you find yourself frustrated with having to go to a specific site like Google Reader just to catch up, or if you work in an industry where you need to respond to news within minutes, Snackr might be right for you.3. Got an iPhone? Try the Reeder app.
Of course, it also costs money. $2.99 to be exact, which can seem steep in the world of free iPhone apps. But if you want something that will sync your iPhone to your Google Reader, this is probably the one to try.4. Abandon RSS altogether.
If you're really struggling with Google Reader backlog, ask yourself if there's even a benefit anymore. Chances are, you're getting most of your favorite info from Twitter, Facebook or news aggregators.
There's been a lot of talk over the years about how RSS never caught on, with less than 10% of online Americans using RSS once a month or more. That's no reason to stop using RSS feeds if they're right for you, but it is a good sign that this approach to distribution is nearing some sort of evolutionary dead end.
Personally, I think RSS just needs a better name, like "Scrip" or "Riz." If one of those takes off, remember, you read it here first.
Until then, did you know you can subscribe by Riz to The Social Path?
Estimated time needed: About an hour for experimentation.
Benefits: More efficient news and industry updates.
Coming tomorrow: Have you seen your YouTube channel lately? If not, you might be in for a surprise.