Some successful people or companies can give the impression of flying in perfect control since their start. However, that is rarely the case. Reality is often more complex, and unexpected events forge the success (or the failure) much more than onlookers could guess.
False control is a state of mental comfort produced by routine, habits and repetition. It’s also a trap in our evolution as adults and professionals.
We spend way too much time watching TV, YouTube, or Netflix, or scrolling long lists on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram. This false control, induced by our profiles and our social networks, transforms us in passive consumers of non-curated content.
An alternative is to take control of our information sources. How to only read quality articles, on interesting topics, and avoid being overwhelmed? The key is the subscription.
Subscribe to your preferred websites instead of visiting them
50 years ago most of the families had one or two subscriptions to local or regional newspapers. It didn’t make sense to go uptown and change your mind too often about your information sources.
The digital world is very different, and it’s not always a good thing. If anything, we have now too many options at our fingertips. Most of the digital readers prefer to visit themselves their preferred news websites depending on the day or the current events. But they also ready articles shared on Twitter, LinkedIn or Facebook by their friends and connections. It’s a bulimic read mode, pushing us to content over-consumption.
The effects are unfiltered information consumption and a continuous noise covering all arguments and quality discussions. The solution is to take control of our information sources, by using newsfeed readers.
A newsfeed reader (also called an RSS reader) is the equivalent of an email account which, instead of receiving messages from our correspondents, regularly receives all the news published in the selected feeds.
Instead of reading what media, friends, and colleagues send you all the time, a better solution is to install a smart-phone application able to read news feeds.
Links for specialized feeds
The feed readers often propose subscribing to the feeds present on the same website. Blogs publish feeds for each category, tag, or comments. Journals publish pages listing all the available feed links.
This way, instead of visiting the New York Times, we can subscribe to all the feeds maintained by the newspaper, such as Politics, or Technology.
How to start using a newsfeed reader
The best way to start is by using a smartphone application. A search in the Google Play or the iOS App Store shows many such applications. An alternative for laptops or PCs is using a web application such as The Old Reader or a desktop application such as Thunderbird or NetNewsWire (for Mac or iOS).
By subscribing to selected journals, blogs and websites we become active readers. To control the content type we can use the multiple feeds published by the same website. Specialized feeds are often available by theme. For a journal, these feeds could cover sport, politics or business sections.
Other feed types allowing control
At first sight, e-mail newsletters are not looking like a good candidate. However, modern systems handling their delivery are often similar to newsfeeds. Subscribing and unsubscribing are possible and easy. The content is often very focused on a specific topic.
Another example of a feed type which took off in the last 5 years is the podcasts. To subscribe to a podcast, the technology is the same as for a newsfeed, each feed article including a link to the episode’s audio file. Since recently, music apps such as Spotify or Deezer allow subscribing podcasts.
What sources to subscribe to?
After installing a newsfeed app, get used to the app options and with the subscription process. Add your favourite journals. Try to find feeds for your preferred sections.
Add your preferred music groups.
Subscribe to a sports journal, but try to only select sports you really like.
Don’t forget, all online content can expose feeds: recruitment sites, your company, your local journal. You just need to look for the RSS feed sign.
Once a year, check your used sources, delete those not working or those which you don’t like anymore.
Be a consumer, but don’t eat any dish coming your way!