Monday, October 15, 2012

Using Feedly as your personal home page

In his post about Top tips for more effective advocacy Duncan Green recently wrote about the importance of setting up a personal home page as a way to keep on top of recent news and resources - before diving into your mailbox. He also pointed to the excellent guide by Owen Barder on how to set up your personal home page with Google Reader or similar services.

Most of the reasons and the advantages to use personal readers have been well described in these posts and there's no point for me to repeat them here.

What I'd like to share with you here is how personalised home pages are helping me to do my work, and what's the tool I'm using to manage my streams of incoming contents.

Not as common as it should be
But before going down into the details, one small reflection based on direct experience and observation from the social media trainings we conduct at Euforic Services: it really strikes me to see how many people still do not know or do not use personal home pages as preferred channel to 'read' the web.

This is true across the board and regardless of the background of people we train. In a workshop on social media for researchers we facilitated last June, only 1 out of more than 20 participants had set up his Google Reader, without actually using it. Similarly, in the social media workshops we're conducting these days at FAO, we are finding that well over 90% of participants do not know or do not use personalised home pages. That's a lot, isn't it?

What's in it for me
For me, my personal home page is the only way I could possibly keep track of about 215 (and counting...) sites and blogs - without spending all my day browsing around the net! The personal home page is the first thing I check in the morning, and then several other time during the day, to look for updates about relevant topics for my work (social and digital media, knowledge sharing and learning, ICTs in developing countries, etc), news from my country and the beyond, comments and analysis and...well..field hockey..

From my personal home page, I can manage different streams of incoming content, browsing my different sources and save items to read later, bookmark them in my Diigo and Delicious lists, share them through Twitter, Facebook and other social media channels. All in the same interface and with just few clicks.

Trying different tools..and sticking now with Feedly
After having tried different feed readers, for more than one year now my personal home page is set up using Feedly - and am really lovin'it!

The way I use Feedly is actually in combination with Google Reader. Indeed, Feedly provides two way synch with Google Reader so no matter if I add new subscriptions to one of the two, these get replicated onto the other. Same goes for items I read or save for later. Basically Feedly adds a much nicer interface of top of your Google Reader and allows you to browse your feeds more in a magazine style than in the dry, flat layout of Google Reader.

Besides RSS feeds, Feedly allows you also to import Twitter and Facebook content, and to tweet and share content to other social media media channels. Further, it promotes content according to 'social engagement', pushing on your front page the most popular items from your sources.

Oh, did I say that the Feedly mobile and tablet apps also look great? Maybe they are even better that the web interface for some aspects.

If you haven't tried it yet, I suggest you give Feedly a chance. Maybe using feed readers to read the social web will be a different, much nicer experience as it has been for me.