MC's Journal

Managing reading

I'm on a Twitter break since January. Suddenly, I had a lot of free time! I'm afraid I filled much of it with an almost immobilising sense of dread and panic which kept me from doing a lot of things I would like to do.

I also spend a lot of time reading news, something I almost always mostly regret but can't seem to stop doing. I read some carefully curated blogs and listen to a few podcasts (Risky Business is amazing!). On the plus side, I have also gone back to reading something like two books every week, both fact and fiction.

When reading news on web sites I find I re-visit the site again and again during the day and lose track of what I have read. It's not very rewarding to reload web pages several times a day in the hope of getting a temporary news fix.

I had an idea for a while that I should go cold turkey and not follow any news media at all, but that turned out to be very hard most of the time. If someone has a traning program or something to wane you off from news feeds, let me know.

Instead, I'm trying to handle reading news by using the Feeder reader on my phone and, of course, the Swiss army chainsaw known as Gnus in Emacs on the laptop for some feeds. I use both the nnrss backend and the wonderful Gwene RSS to NNTP gateway. Of course, I use Gwene's sister server Gmane for reading quite a few mailing lists as if they were good old Usenet.

Even mainstream Swedish newspapers such as Dagens Nyheter and Sydsvenskan and many others still expose RSS feeds! Even if they're not full text feeds it helps a lot in keeping track of what you have read. You can read the lead and decide if you want to read the article proper by following the link to their web site. Then it's automatically marked as read and you don't have to revisit their web sites all the time. Feeder does it for you.

I also use the feed from Colin Percival's Hacker News Daily and the wonderfully bitter Webshit weekly so I don't have to do HN myself. also still has an RSS feed. Two, even: one for the articles and for the comments.

As usual, if you want to keep your SAN points, avoid the comments on both sites even if they're probably better than most sites with comment threads. Youtube comes to mind... Use Hide Youtube Comments!

Hm... A HN Daily but for my Twitter feed? The 10(?) most retweeted and/or favourited tweets of the day? Sounds like a nice hack!

Speaking of saving SAN, I totally avoid mainstream computer news such as IDG and friends, altough, yes, even IDG has RSS! OK, I do follow VICE Motherboard but they have full text RSS! And, of course, Motherboard has Lorenzo Franceschi-Bicchierai.

For books, I keep an Org mode file with headings for “Read” and “To read”. I'm afraid I still haven't taken full inventory of the “To read” list. Books are stacked in several pillars all over my living room, waiting either to be read or to be sorted and inserted into our bookshelves. Oh, and we need at least two new bookshelves to add to our existing twelve.

Some highlights of what I've read since starting my Twitter break: