“I’m getting sick of all the negative news on Facebook.” Has a friend said this to you? Have you heard more and more of this? Are YOU tired of feeling like the information scrolling down your Facebook feed isn’t what you care about? You can build a simple alternative.
What If You Controlled Your Own Attention?
Before we all got sucked into the fan blades of Facebook (and I’m not anti-Facebook – I’m just explaining that there’s this other “build it yourself” Internet that came before it and still exists), the blogging revolution was delivered to us via RSS (Really Simple Syndication), largely thanks to internet pioneer Dave Winer. The name of the game was subscribing to blogs. We’d discover these by looking at the blog rolls (lists of other blogs you might like) that were a fixture on the sidebar of our websites.
I could get all nerdy-techy and also go deep into the “back in my day,” but the part you should be thinking about is this: people CHOSE their news sources, curated their own interests, and managed their own consumption of media. They could stay connected to communities that mattered to them, and grow with the combined developments that were brought to light in those communities.
Facebook is swell at what it does: keeping you scrolling. But what it doesn’t do is help you focus on what matters most to you. You spend a lot of your time clicking that red and white number to see what just happened, and less and less time immersing in something of value to you. It’s not evil. It’s just one tool. I want to remind you of another option.
Build Your Own News Reader
One of the simplest tools you can use for this is Feedly.
Your account there is free. I signed up using my Facebook account credentials (hey, universal login credentials is a really useful thing), but you can give them an email and password, too.
From there, you can start seeking out and adding whatever it is you’d like to stay more informed about. It’s as easy as clicking the + symbol in the upper left of the screen.
Two Ways to Add Feeds
You can search without knowing what you want to find using the search bar or you can find a specific blog’s content feed, if you know how to look.
My blog’s RSS feed is https://chrisbrogan.com/feed. You simply have to put that URL into the search bar to add it to Feedly. But if you don’t know the actual URL of the feed, you can search. I typed in “Altucher Confidential” to find my buddy James Altucher’s material and I got this:
Use Folders to Sort Your Thoughts Even More
Let’s say you’re like me and have a lot of interests. I like business stories, world news stories, military and special operations stories, video game stories, and more. To keep those organized, click the little GEAR graphic in the top left like in this picture:
It brings up a page that says “Organize My Feeds” and allows you to add a New Collection. Call it whatever you want. It’ll help you keep organized and allow you to drill down into exactly what you want to look at.
Ways to Use Your News Reader
Pick a topic that applies to your business and look for a news source that isn’t your typical information. For instance, let’s say you run a fence company in New England. I clicked the + in the upper left corner and I put in “landscaping” and “architecture” and “yard design” and a few other topics. I soon had dozens of potential news sources. I typed in “New England Real Estate” and found places that listed homes going up on the market. I imagine one time people would buy a fence would be right before they put their home on the market for sale. See?
Outside of the Feedly site, you can also go to Google and search both on topics to find potential articles, and/or people you’re interested in following. I googled “interview with James Altucher” and looked at some of the people who had interviewed him. I found lots of people I know, but also a few I didn’t, and those led me to new sources of information I might want, given that if these people were smart enough to interview James, they likely might interview other people I like.
Crazy Things to Track
Did you know you could subscribe to a search for products on Amazon? I found this Amazon Feed Generator app. I put in “Batman” and got this. You can narrow it down to a particular product category, too.
You can search hashtags. I went to a tool called QueryFeed and put in #batman (you know, in case you want to see what people are tweeting about Batman). It spat out a fairly ugly page. But I copied the URL up at the top, dropped that into the search bar at Feedly, and that let me subscribe to the results of that search. Kapow! (Now, pick the hashtag YOU want to search.)
You can get your weather in your reader via rssWeather.com. It takes a few clicks, but suddenly, I was getting a decent feed of my town’s weather right there in my Feedly.
I googled state emergency management news for where I live and found a feed for that.
You’re In Control
You have the power to create your own channel, to build whatever kind of information you feel like tracking. And you can choose how you spend your attention. Sure, funny dog videos are cool. But if you want to grow and thrive and get out of the bubble, you have the tools to do that, too.
One last thing about Feedly: there’s a mobile app for iPhone or Android and it works great. You can be as mobile as you want to be with this tool.
In my next post, I’ll talk about creating the news. But we needed a place to put it first. Want to be sure to get the next post in the series? Be sure to add my feed on Feedly!
Chris Brogan is a business advisor, keynote speaker, and the New York Times bestselling author of 9 books and counting. His next book, Make Your Own Game, is due out in 2017 from Wiley Books.