I'm a Christian, a designer, and a gadget fan who lives in Cheltenham, UK.

This is my blog, a creative outlet to mess around and play with as well as a place that logs my thoughts and inspirations.

Experiencing A Fever

I’ve done some­thing tonight I’ve not done for a a while. I’ve sat at my desk with a glass of wine and read. I’ve read feeds. Some of which con­tained posts that stretched back a few weeks, oth­ers posts writ­ten today and I’ve come out the oth­er side feel­ing like I’ve enjoyed a relaxed evening.
In a world where we get busier and busier, where more and more things are going on, times where we can just relax seem to be more and more pre­cious. Those moment where you can focus on some­thing and for­get about all that’s going on around you, for­get about the ToDo’s stack­ing up in Things, the emails need­ing to be read and those things that oth­er­wise cause dis­trac­tions. Of course I’m not talk­ing about the times spent with peo­ple, those times are impor­tant and to be rel­ished, in fact there’s noth­ing nicer than spend­ing the evening shar­ing a piz­za and a bot­tle of wine with my girl­friend. Those times are trea­sured & impor­tant and any­thing but a dis­trac­tion.
Instead I’m talk­ing about things that, at least for me, seem to come under a group ban­ner called the inter­net. Yes, the inter­net is invalu­able, in fact I use it for work and play, but it can get to a point where you feel like you are always clam­our­ing to stay on top of things. Stay on top of the inbox, stay on top of the ever grow­ing unread feed count whilst dip­ping in and out of the stream of con­scious­ness oth­er­wise known as Twit­ter.
It’s hard work.
Judg­ing by the, lack of, fre­quen­cy of posts on my blog in the last few months its been appar­ent I’ve been look­ing for away to not tone back on the amount of things I read on the web, but rather to imple­ment some form of con­trol. That con­trol seems to have been to add a bit of dis­tance between the con­stant bar­rage of the inter­net and me. I’ve begun read­ing books again, shock hor­ror, and I’ve been enjoy­ing it. Enjoy­ing it in a way I’ve not been enjoy­ing read­ing on the web for a while.
It’s been clear some habits had to change and the main issue lay with my feed read­er. So much goes into it that if I don’t stay on top of it and achieve RSS ZERO every­day I soon lose enthu­si­asm for it, hit the mark all as read and start again. The trou­ble with this is I miss things.
I don’t like miss­ing things, and I end up in the repeat­ing process of aim­ing to achieve RSS ZERO every­day.
Some peo­ple may say it’s a lit­tle sad I felt the need to stay on top of my RSS feeds every­day, and I’d agree. But work­ing in an indus­try that is con­stant­ly chang­ing, evolv­ing, grow­ing and releas­ing new things every­day it’s dif­fi­cult not to want to try and stay at the peak. See­ing the things oth­ers are cre­at­ing helps me draw inspi­ra­tion and devel­op new ways of think­ing, some­thing very impor­tant in the world of design. Rather than zero­ing out I want­ed a way of keep­ing my fin­ger “on the pulse” whilst remov­ing the pres­sure of it.
I often want­ed my feed read­er to tell me what’s going on, to give me the most impor­tant bits and then let me catch the rest when I’m ready. I’d flit­ted back and forth for a few months between Net­NewsWire, Google Read­er and News­Fire but noth­ing real­ly dif­fer­en­ti­ates one from the oth­er. They all han­dle feeds in the same way and they all made me feel like I need­ed to achieve RSS ZERO.
Then almost exact­ly a month ago there was an inter­est­ing devel­op­ment. No not the release of a new ver­sion of the iPhone OS, but instead the unleash­ing on the inter­net of a Fever.
Now it would be a lit­tle naive of me to claim that Fever has fixed things and allowed me to reclaim lots of time, no that has to come with a change of mind­set, but it has helped.
Fever brings a new approach to RSS feeds and I’m not the only one who has noticed. Some enjoy the new aspect of com­mu­ni­ty it brings, con­nec­tions with read­ers are good things, but oth­ers like me enjoy the con­trol it brings. I’ve enjoyed the last cou­ple of weeks and noticed I’m less dis­tract­ed when it comes to work. No longer am I open­ing NNW reg­u­lar­ly to see what’s new and keep the unread count down. I’m pop­ping into Fever for a quick break, read an arti­cle while I drink my cof­fee that it tells me I might be inter­est­ed in and then back to work.
The over­all feel­ing is one of being informed with­out feel­ing over­whelmed.
I can be updat­ed on what’s hap­pen­ing with­out hav­ing to dis­cov­er it for myself. It’s then up to me how much time I spend seek­ing out more infor­ma­tion.

But How Does It Work?

After a lit­tle trep­i­da­tion I’d pur­chased Fever and with­in min­utes I had my RSS sub­scrip­tions import­ed. A lit­tle sift­ing allowed me to move some of the feeds which pro­vide the odd inter­est­ing arti­cle into a sec­tion called Sparks which I also pop­u­lat­ed with some blogs I’d removed in a cull because the good to bad ratio was swing­ing the wrong way.
This left me with a bunch of feeds I knew I would like read­ing oth­er­wise known as Kin­dling. Some of these were moved into a fold­er called favourites because as a gen­er­al rule of thumb I enjoy read­ing every post and look for­ward to their pithy com­ments. This bit is usu­al­ly my first port of call when I’ve got a bit more time on my hands, it works just like the “old skool” feed read­ers. I can go through feeds indi­vid­u­al­ly and sift through the arti­cles select­ing things to read.
Then there’s The Hot List, the gem that tells me what I might like, that keeps me up to date and lets me enjoy read­ing the Kin­dling. If a feed in my Kin­dling com­bines with some in my Sparks, the arti­cle gains a high­er tem­per­a­ture and thus becomes more like­ly to be read. It’s a clever trick that works on the under­stand­ing that blog posts link to each oth­er. It knows that the inter­net is a large com­mu­ni­ty with many lit­tle ones inside, so it knows that when lots of blogs are link­ing to some­thing then heck it must be good.

What’s The Out Come?

Well, for me at least, it makes for a more enjoy­able and more relaxed read­ing expe­ri­ence. No longer is there the pres­sure to keep up to date by check­ing the feeds and look­ing at each one indi­vid­u­al­ly, now I can be kept up to date and all I have to do is vis­it the first page of Fever. A quick glance shows me all the head­lines, I can pick one to read and then if I’m inter­est­ed look at the list of blogs I’m sub­scribed to and see what they’ve got to say.
This is for me how feeds should behave. They’re there to tell you a site has been updat­ed, so it makes sense for you’re feed read­er to pri­ori­tise things for you. Now if only some­one would do the same for my email…