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Slow Feed Movement: 7 Tools to Filter the RSS Flood

11.03.08 Posted in Uncategorized by

For the last couple of days we’ve been asking people: how do you cope with all the info that bombards you through your RSS feeds, Twitter and similar services? When you’re young and eager to soak in as much info as you can, you’re happy to be flooded with the stuff. But, it can’t go on forever. So, how do you make sense of it, and filter out the junk?

It’s not an easy task, I can tell you that. As a journalist, I’m basically forced to go through everything; but sometimes I wonder whether it’s smarter to accept some collateral damage and heavily filter everything that comes in, because the signal to noise ratio is awful, and it doesn’t show signs of getting better. Just like junk food, some of us keep eating against our better judgment; the junk in our RSS feeds and tweets requires its own slow feed movement. Let’s take a look at what can be done about this and how you guys and girls are coping with the flood.

1. Yahoo Pipes – if you’re crafty and willing to put some time into battling the surplus of information in your feeds, Yahoo Pipes is the tool for you. When you delve a bit deeper into Pipes, the whole thing might start looking like a quite complex logic game, but trust me, there’s little you can’t do with this tool. Filtering feeds for specific keywords, mashing up several feeds into one, extracting chunks of data from feeds and matching those against other feeds…the possibilities are endless.

2. TweetDeck – when we asked our Twitter friends what they use to make sense of Twitter’s relentless noise, they responded almost unanimously: TweetDeck. It’s an Adobe Air desktop application, currently in public beta, that lets you split your main Twitter feed into meaningful chunks of information. Essentially, it’s the group feature everyone has been requesting since the dawn of time. The word on the street is that it’s best used full screen on a separate monitor; does it mean I have to buy another monitor (I already have two and I totally lack screen real estate) and call it TweetMonitor? Yes, it does.

3. Best of FriendFeed – FriendFeed is the information junkie’s favorite tool, and this little option can be a really nice way to quickly glance at what’s really good on a given day. It’s almost hidden in the upper right corner, under the view option; choose “best of” and you’ll get the post most liked (bookmarked, commented on) by your friends in the period of a day, week or a month.

4. xFruits – if slicing and dicing your RSS feeds in every way imaginable is your goal, the most elegant way to do it is xFruits. Instead of offering one tool that does everything, they’ve created several simple tools that can aggregate feeds, turn RSS into PDF, turn e-mails to RSS and a lot more.

5. Postrank – previously called AideRSS, this is one of our favorites. The main premise behind it is audience engagement; the better engagement ranking something gets, the more important it is. Postrank lets you set up RSS feeds based on this and filter them into channels. The best way to understand how all this works is to check out the video tutorials which explain the four main ways of using Postrank.

6. Techmeme – although a purely algorithmic affair, in the sense that you can’t filter feeds yourself or choose what you get in any way, Techmeme works so well it’s probably the best way to completely replace all your tech-related RSS feeds if you’re so inclined. Quick and relevant, Techmeme somehow manages to find the best news out there, with the number of reactions from blogs focusing your attention on what’s really important.

If you’re into technology, Techmeme is definitely an indispensable tool that saves your time. It also has a gossip news counterpart called WeSmirch, political news is handled by memeorandum, and you can find the best of baseball news on BallBug.

7. ReadBurner – similar to Techmeme in appearance, this service gives more weight to news items which are shared more often on Google Reader. This works surprisingly well, and the front page almost always brings you a great selection of current and interesting news. Disclosure is in order, as this project is Mashable’s Chief Editor Adam Ostrow’s baby.

So, have we convinced you to join the Movement? If nothing else, try one of these tools for size and see how you like the world with less feeds and more relevance. Most importantly, don’t forget to list your favorite tools for slowing down feeds in the comments.

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