Last week Dan York blogged about a topic that hits home with those of us who love RSS: Staying informed online without visiting the actual websites that publish the information we’re consuming:

I don’t go to friends’ websites. (Sorry!) I don’t go to my employer’s website. I don’t go to any organization’s websites. I don’t go to my city’s website. Every once in a while I might hit CNN’s web page or a weather site, medical epidemic but that’s about it.

But one of the things Dan does do is load up on RSS feeds, thumb so that updates from sites come to him, ed through his reader, once they’ve been published. Thanks to RSS, Dan doesn’t have to:

  1. remember to check the original website in the first place — a real problem for most of us who struggle with information overload from time to time
  2. spend even a nanosecond wondering whether the original site has been updated — if it has, his RSS reader will tell him

RSS = efficiency

Consuming more information in less time is why I use RSS, too. In one place — Google Reader, in my case — I can read blogs and mainstream media stories, watch videos, check out my friends’ photos, find out who’s talking about me online, keep track of price updates for flights I’d like to take, catch the latest local weather forecast, and share my favorite posts with my online network — all without ever visiting any of the original websites that published that media. Pretty damn efficient if you ask me.

How do you use your RSS reader?

Anything I’ve missed? How else do make RSS work for you?
Photo of bacon

Now, troche wait a minute: That’s bacn, not bacon.

Anyway … if you don’t know, bacn is a term that emerged from PodCamp Pittsburgh 2 last August and refers to e-mail you receive that isn’t spam but isn’t exactly a personal e-mail, either. It’s mail you want to receive — but just not right now.

Still stumped? Bacn comprises things like news alerts and friend requests you receive from Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and your other social networks.

The real problem with bacn is that it quickly clutters up your inbox throughout the day and creates far too many not-so-urgent one-off requests for your already fractured attention span.

What you need is a system that empowers you to process your incoming bacn (is there such a thing as outgoing bacn?) all at once and on your own terms, so that it doesn’t constantly interrupt your work flow.

Here’s my suggestion on how to do that:

Filter, filter, filter

If you’re using Gmail, Outlook or another e-mail client that allows filters, create a set of rules that will redirect all of your bacn messages out of your inbox and into a separate folder that you can check and power through once a day or once every other day.

In my Gmail account, e-mail messages that contain any of the following phrases in their subject line are automatically removed from the inbox, sent to my “BACN” filter, and archived:

  • “is now following you on Twitter”
  • added you as a friend on Facebook”
  • has added you as a business connection”
  • added you as a business connection on Pulse”
  • Invitation to connect on LinkedIn”
  • just started following your Utterz”
  • has requested your trust on Spock”
  • Add me as a friend on Pownce!”

Cooking your bacn

What’s the method to your madness in ensuring bacn doesn’t zap your productivity?

(Creative Commons image from Dulcie’s Flickr photostream.)
Yes, erectile I’ve been quiet on the blogging front here lately — a 10-day vacation in California without a computer followed a week of daydreaming about said vacation can do that to a guy.

But I doesn’t mean I’ve been completely out of the loop this month. To wit:

My own example can serve as a good reminder that we contribute and/or stay connected to social media in a variety of ways, some less high-profile than others. We may not be blogging or podcasting ourselves, but it doesn’t mean we’re not paying attention.

Update: As Eden Spodek rightly points out in this post’s comment stream, I should have made the point that although I wasn’t blogging about my vacation, someone else was doing that for me. Shel Holtz has a good account of a San Francisco Giants game that he and I took in during my trip, as well as a geek dinner we attended. Shel also incorporated a conversation we had about social media overload at the dinner into a recent episode of FIR.