Tools I use – Reeder for RSS based information capture

A lot of the information I deal with, either for my day job or for my teaching or blogging, I get from different web published sources, be it blogs or websites. As I really don’t have the time to visit each of these sites every single day, I make use of the RSS feeds where these sites provide them. I gather all that information in a so-called RSS reader.

What is Reeder?

Well, Reeder is my preferred multi-platform (iOS and OS X) RSS feed reader. The tool syncs with my Google Reader account to bring me all the information in a well designed format when I want it, or as long as I am within reach of a good 3G/4G or trusted WIFI network.
There are other RSS readers with a good reputation, both on iOS and OS X, but Reeder has an aesthetic that I have to date failed to find in other RSS readers. It provides a truly pleasant scanning/reading experience.

How I use Reeder

Those of you who have read my post on Instapaper know that I do not read in my RSS reader. I actually use it to scan through the articles. In my scanning, I follow a basic GTD approach:

  • An article I don’t particularly care about gets passed. As I don’t do anything with it, Reeder marks it as read and will remove it from my reading queue.
  • An article I must read or do something with for my day job gets send to Evernote and tagged as ‘review’. This way, it ends up in a workflow I will write about later.
  • An article I want to read, but with no direct urgency, gets send to Instapaper, where I follow the process I described in this post.
  • In exceptional cases where I want someone to take direct action on an article, I will forward it through mail, but this happens seldom. I avoid it because this implies a delegated task, which I would rather manage through OmniFocus. Reeder does not allow for OmniFocus sharing as Instapaper or, with some effort, Evernote does.

Of course, as GTD adepts may be quick and correct to point out, I do not comply with the basic premise of GTD that I should touch every piece of stuff only once. I actually ‘process’ it twice, both in capture and in review. Well, it’s not a perfect world. This is the best I can get my process now.

Which platforms can you find Reeder on?

Well, this is what I really like. There is an Reeder iPad application, a dedicated Reeder iPhone/iPod Touch application, and an OS X application. I can pretty much scan through my feeds whenever I have a couple of minutes of downtime, or during morning breakfast when I leave early and no one else is awake yet.

What are disadvantages and how do I deal with them?

Now, Reeder is a great but not a perfect application. I currently have two gripes about it:

  • The first one is a big one. I cannot directly add feeds in the iOS app. For this, I have a different Google Reader client call Mr. Reader. I have this app on my iOS devices for no other reason. Why not switch to Mr. Reader completely? Well, aesthetics mostly.
  • The second one is a truly nerdish one: as I don’t trust Google for the full 100% never to suddenly kill Google Reader, I have set up a separate RSS aggregation solution called Fever. While not as fast or as complete as Google Reader, it works for my purposes of having a back-up solution available. Sadly, only my Reeder iPhone client works with Fever. Neither the iPad nor the OS X application support Fever.

In conclusion

Reeder is an excellent application that provides me with access to my RSS feeds when I want it. It allows me to perform good capture of that inflow of information into my workflows.

Reeder's main screen, with all my RSS feeds
Reeder’s main screen, with all my RSS feeds
A view of my unread articles stack for this evening
A view of my unread articles stack for this evening
Reeder's sharing interface. I've configured it to show only those services I use or am experimenting with
Reeder’s sharing interface. I’ve configured it to show only those services I use or am experimenting with