Today I want to tell you about an amazing find I came across last week, helping greatly accelerate my ability to take in, make use of, and share information, while decreasing my stress about doing so.
Every day I look forward to reading my RSS feeds. Now, lest you think I'm an obsessive information freak, I was much like you: overwhelmed, mostly ignoring the thousands of unread articles, my feeds having become little more than another inbox to check. (Don't know what feeds are? Watch this quick video.)
Flock, the would be all in one social media friendly browser, remedied this to an extent, with its front page that includes a sampling of three each of the most recent articles from your feeds, good to graze on.
But I eventually became immune to it, it too becoming another speedbump to my other, "more important" tasks. But really, as a sustainable business consultant, what's more important than keeping abreast of what's going on in your field, and the many things it touches?
So I was really pleased to learn about Feedly. Why? It takes your feed content, you tell it which is your favorite most frequently read, and it lays it out beautifully (see popup pic, right), almost feeling like a highly polished blog or magazine itself, making manageable and attractive what could easily be a big info dump, as other RSS readers often treat it.
But Feedly is not just a pretty face on the same old same old.
It takes that information, and integrates several tools to do something with it, allowing you to take action directly from the article you're currently reading. For someone like me who's active on Twitter, I can quickly share an interesting find. I could email it to a colleague. I could share it with others who use Google Reader. My Facebook network or Friendfeed subscribers could quickly know about it. I could bookmark it in Delicious, having it handy for when it's useful for my clients. If I just want the link, Feedly is happy to oblige that too.
Now what if something looks interesting, but you don't have time now to read? Click a little + button next to the article title, and it gets saved for later. Nothing special, right? This is where the genius touches happen:
In your Digest front page, Feedly serves up 1-2 of your saved articles in the top most featured pieces. This prevents them from being forgotten relics gathering electronic dust, increasing the likelihood you'll actually read them.
- The FF is for FriendFeed, the increasingly popular lifestreaming service. Click the button, and up pops the page with everybody on there who's noted, commented, linked to or otherwise added relevant commentary on their own site. And it doesn't need to be a blog page. Any will do.
- The man with shovel icon is from Digg. pushing it takes you directly to the digg page related to the one you were just on.
- Clicking the thumb button quickly posts it to both Feedly and Google Reader, for others that follow you to see.
- You can also tweet (share it on Twitter) or email it rapidly.
A lot of action from a tiny piece of your screen real estate, eh?
Let's return to the Feedly page: For each article you look at, it weaves in the Friendfeed mentions/conversations, what's being said on Digg, and comments from the article itself. Are you a visual person? Feedly plucks which articles have video in them, and features those, clicking them leading you to the related article, where you're able to watch the video while still in Feedly.
The final feature I want you to know about is one that might otherwise get overlooked in the all the action happening below: Tucked in the top right corner is an discreet search box. Typing in Verterra, a leaf based plate company, gets you this (click to expand):
In one page, you can see where in the press, the blogs, Youtube, Twitter, Delicious, and Flickr your search has been mentioned. Brand monitoring/competition tracking anybody?
And the cherry on top of this is their support. Yes, support for a free Firefox add-on. On their Get Satisfaction page. You can give feedback, kudos, and most importantly, problems solved. Fast. They're frequently on there, ready to either make it work for you, or take into serious consideration your suggested new features.
Feedly is not perfect, but improving often, with noticeable improvements seeming to pop up every day, with no need to load a new version.
So, what are you waiting for? Give Feedly a spin. Tell me how your experience has been. Share other resources you've found effective at managing and sharing information. Comment below please.
Paul Smith is a sustainable business innovator, the founder of GreenSmith Consulting, blogs weekly on green start ups of note at Triple Pundit and has an MBA in Sustainable Management from Presidio Graduate School in San Francisco. He creates interest in, conversations about, and business for green (and greening) companies, via social media marketing.