With regard to reading — both online and offline — I feel my 2013 has been a denser, richer year than 2012. I know for sure I’ve read more books in 2013 than the year before, and as for reading stuff online I’m left with the impression that I’ve found more quality writing overall. Maybe I’m just getting better at instinctively avoiding the bad writing and at filtering out the noise while tuning to the signal.
Fiddling with the feeds
There are geeks who obsess over their software setup and keep rearranging the apps on their phones, tablets, and computers to achieve that perfect combination of frictionless productivity or minimalism-oriented anal-retentiveness or what have you. I tend to rearrange my feeds rather frequently. The main reason I do that is because I don’t want my reading list to get out of control, both in size and in the amount of unread items. My issue with accumulating unread articles is not that I want to reach RSS Feeds Zero at all costs. It’s because, in a way, I think I’m not respecting the people I’ve added to my list of resources. What’s the point of adding someone you find insightful and worth following, if then you don’t read what they write because their website or blog has become just another drop in the ocean of your feed reader?
In the second half of 2013, I further simplified my RSS feed management:
- I’ve transferred all the infrequent reads, the rarely-updated sources (the ‘slow feeds’) into the older version of NetNewsWire I keep on my G4 Cube. This version of NetNewsWire doesn’t sync with anything, so it makes sense to use it for those sources I check infrequently and/or are updated infrequently.
- The sources I check frequently and those which are updated frequently are managed via my Feedly account, and kept synchronised on the Mac (with ReadKit), on the iPad (with Feedly) and on the iPhone (with My Paper).
- I have removed from all my feed readers those sources I end up checking so frequently I don’t even need a feed reader to keep track of them, and I’ve added them to Coast’s screens for quick one-tap access.
- I have mercilessly removed from my feed readers all those sources I’ve lost interest in over time, plus all those sources which have let me down, in a way or another (by changing focus and talking more about things I don’t particularly care about; by providing shallower content; by becoming ‘me-too’ blogs; by getting progressively more self-admiring and self-approving; and so on and so forth).
The result of this process is that I have 20 ‘Infrequent Reads’ feeds in NetNewsWire, around 35 feeds in the ‘Hot & always in-sync list’, and 18 bookmarked websites in the Coast browser on the iPad. Considering that in 2011 I had a total of 273 feeds in my feed reader, the current situation after the progressive pruning is pure RSS management heaven.
More people, less portals
In 2013 I noticed I started following people more closely while I found big tech news sites to be less and less appealing. Sure, I read a lot of articles here and there, but most of the time it was because someone on Twitter or App.net had suggested the link, not because I was keeping an eye on that portal’s feeds.
Anyway, without further ado, here’s whom I added to my reading list in 2013.
In the tech sphere (tech commentary, programming, app development, etc.):
- Harry Marks at Curious Rat — I really like Harry’s honest, direct style. He doesn’t write only tech-related commentary but focuses also on themes related to the process of writing.
- Nick Heer’s Pixel Envy — I found Nick by following a link on another source (can’t remember who, sorry), and what a great discovery Pixel Envy has been. I loved Nick’s in-depth review of iOS 7 and Retina iPad mini review (and once again I suggest you read his The best photo editing app on the iPhone writeup on The Sweet Setup). He’s another honest voice who always talks from experience and when he has something to say.
- Raging Thunderbolt — Not frequently updated, but often a refreshing reading.
- Smarterbits by Shadoe Huard — It’s a recent find, and I like it.
- Brett Terpstra’s website — You’ll find a lot of interesting resources on Brett’s site, and of course his writing. I never miss his ‘Web Excursions’ link posts. If you’re into all things Markdown, Brett is definitely someone to follow.
- Stratēchery, by Ben Thompson — Ben’s analyses and insights are always worth your time.
- Benedict Evans’s website — …same goes for Benedict’s contributions.
- Waffle — Written by Jesper, “some guy in Sweden” as he presents himself. He often talks about programming and software, and his contributions can get quite technical, but you’ll also find the recipe for making the best Swedish pancakes. My favourite articles are Web browsing like it’s 1999 and Compare Contrast.
- Techinch by Matthew Guay — I discovered Matthew by reading his great software reviews over at AppStorm. Then I started following him on App.net and finally added his blog to my reading list. I suggest you do the same.
- Whole & Part by Zac Cichy — The most recent addition (the site is also fairly new), so recent it was already 2014 when I added it. I arrived to it by following a discussion on Twitter and thinking “I like this Cichy guy, I should read more of what he writes.”
- David Smith’s blog — He’s the developer of Feed Wrangler and I’ve been enjoying his musings about apps and the App Store (read this article or this one, for example).
- Collin Donnell’s blog — He’s the developer of Pinbook for Pinboard and I discovered his blog only very recently, but I quickly made up for lost time by reading older articles. I really like Collin’s writing. (See for example The Products Apple Doesn’t Have Time to Improve.)
- Jared Sinclair’s blog — He’s the developer of, among other things, Riposte and Whisper for App.net, and I’m looking forward to using his upcoming Unread RSS reader. I found his blog while browsing for Fifty-Three’s Pencil stylus reviews (Jared has written one) and after reading a few other articles, I decided it was worth keeping the blog in my feeds.
- Rob Horning’s Internal Exile — Technology, philosophy, food for thought.
- Jonathon Duerig — I’m adding him to my reading list as a sort of special mention. Jonathon is a developer and has his website where you’ll find more information about his many projects. But my suggestion is to follow him on App.net. He’s a great guy with whom I’ve had many interesting discussions and exchanges. He may challenge your point of view, but what follows is always constructive.
Other voices and resources, not strictly related to the tech sphere:
- Donovan Bond’s website — Photography above all. If you love Fujifilm’s digital cameras, you’ll want to add his Fuji vs. Fuji project to your bookmarks.
- The VSCO Journal — I love everything Visual Supply Co. does, and their Journal is a great source of inspiration, especially if you’re into photography and design.
- Fern Riddell’s Vice and Virtue Blog • The London Music Hall’s 1850–1939 — I’m a bit of a Victorian and Edwardian eras’ fanatic, and I was very pleased to add Fern’s website to my resources. Her About page will tell you all you need to know about who she is and where she comes from. I can tell you she’s smart and witty, and if you like what she writes and the themes she talks about, you should also follow her on Twitter.
- Messy Nessy Chic — The tag line says it all: Blogging on the off-beat, the unique and the chic. Curious Internet findings, abandoned places, interesting photographs… and much more. Browse the archives, follow the related links at the bottom of every article and go down the rabbit hole. You won’t regret the time you spend on her site.
- Liz Climo’s tumblr — I love her drawing style and sense of humour.
- Transit Maps — I’m obsessed with transit maps — especially historical transit maps — and this is a fantastic resource to follow on Tumblr.
Is this all? Probably not, and I may update this list in the following days. Oh, and of course I keep reading all the resources and people I found in 2012…