Most every day I try to read something that makes me uncomfortable. Something that challenges my worldview, reminds me of my privilege, prompts me to think about unmet wants and needs of others in the world, or that just helps me step outside of my everyday understanding of how things work.
A few sources I turn to when I want to be uncomfortable include:
Sometimes my discomfort turns to anger or sadness, sometimes it turns into ideas, sometimes it even results in action. Most often it's helpful to me, sometimes it's not. But being uncomfortable now and then feels important.
As a fun project a few weekends ago, I created the website 47374.info. It automatically pulls together news and headlines from a variety of different news sources in the Richmond/Wayne County Indiana area.
The site has a simple display of those headlines that's automatically updated as they're made available throughout the day, and you can click on them to go read the original content on the source site - that's about it. There's a mobile-friendly version at http://m.47374.info/ and you can also easily see some recent local tweets from Twitter. The site's still officially in beta but I've gotten some great feedback from test users so far.
I created 47374.info because I was tired of looking in a lot of different places to see what's making news in my community, or wondering if I'd missed something that was only announced on the very transient Twitter. Some news sources have lots of content but make getting to it hard or leave certain key things out. Other sources have a few juicy nuggets of relevant content once in a while but don't make updates available via RSS feeds, so you never quite know how often to check back.
So with the magic of WordPress plus some custom Perl scripts, I've restored some sanity to my news-reading time. For the first time in a long time, I've set a website (instead of a blank page) as the default "Home" page that opens when I launch my browser. Over the last few weeks, it's meant I'm more aware of community news, and I spend less time per day getting there.
Thanks to all of the local news/headline/event publishers that work to keep our community informed!
If you try out 47374.info and have feedback, drop me a line.
I've written before about how RSS feeds and website content syndication can make a big difference in how you take in content online. If you haven't played around with a feed reader service or tool (like Google Reader), you should really give it a try.
But now it's time to explore the darker side of RSS feeds (or, for those of you stuck in the 1990s, web browser bookmarks): despite making your continued content consumption more efficient, it's still too tempting to subscribe to too many of them, and once again have too much "clutter" in your electronic life.
My own feed reading list ranges between 100-200 feeds at any given time (thanks NetNewsWire for making this easy!), and I've had to be very intentional about keeping the list that "small." So, in hopes of helping you prevent RSS feed frenzy, and perhaps to learn about some of your techniques for the same, I present "5 reasons to ditch an RSS feed":