Time Management

April 29, 2009

Using Yahoo Pipes and Google Reader to Read Only the Important Stuff

pipesIf you are one of those people who get overwhelmed with information then you may try using technology for pre-sorting it for you. I certainly am such a person – I like getting more information but so far I couldn’t find good way to keep track on the latest and greatest. Having in mind that I have full time job and quite busy life, I am still looking for the perfect technology that will deliver the right content to me at the right time. Unfortunately I have to deal with the current state and use whatever is available.

 

For me RSS feeds are not enough. I like the bloggers but (I hope they will forgive me) I don’t want to read every piece of crap they put in front of me through their RSS feeds (the same way I don’t expect you to read every piece of crap I write:)). There are a bunch of feeds filtering web sites where you can go and filter your RSS feeds using keywords (you can read about some in Josh Catone’s post 6 Ways to Filter Your RSS Feeds). I took those as a starting point and here is what I came up with.

Blog Aggregation Pipe

Using Yahoo Pipes I created a giant pipe where I dumped the RSS feeds from blogs I currently try to follow - a bit over 30. This became my Blog Aggregation Pipe.

 

You do that by just adding Fetch Feed Source and typing the RSS URL in the available input box. The benefit of having pipe like that is that you can easily add additional RSS feeds by just adding one more entry to the source.

Topic Funnels

After that I created few other pipes each one of which filters the content for specific topic. Everyone of those pipes uses the Blog Aggregation Pipe as input. Those pipes I use as Topic Funnels – for example this is the Analytics Funnel.

You create this funnel by using the Blog Aggregation Pipe as a source and passing the output from it through a Filter Operator. Here is how the configuration looks like:

analytics-funnel
I went with the basic approach – filtering only the title for particular keywords. Going forward I will try to improve the filters based on the posts I read and the keywords I see in those posts but for now I think this is enough. 

One thing you need to be aware is that browsers cache the content of the pipe and if you test you changes in the same window you may start seeing the same results again again – either use Ctrl+Shift+F5 or just open new window when you run your pipe.

Time to Go and Read

Once you have all the funnels configured you can click on the conveniently located Add to Google button after you run the pipe. The neat things about Google Reader are that it marks certain posts as Read once you read them as well as it allows you to add notes to the posts (something I always wanted Outlook to do:)).

 

Now I think I am all set to read only things I am interested in and don’t spend time on random posts.