The era of computers and digital technologies made information overload a common issue. According to statistics, today it takes a day to generate the amount of information that fifty years ago would have taken a year to be produced.
The problem of handling information flow is especially urgent for those working in the field of the Web and media. Here the pressure is probably the heaviest and it takes a lot of effort and savvy to be well-informed rather than overwhelmed by information.
So is it possible to turn an impetuous stream of information to a quiet yet refreshing channel? To find it out we interviewed 20 respected and successful designers, developers, writers and speakers working in the field of the Web construction. If you were ever curious to know what industry professionals prefer to read on a daily basis, what resources they read longest of all and how they organize their information flow, you can find the answers in this post.
Moreover, the interview comes with a nice bonus — we asked the designers to share their RSS feed files, which you can download and import into your RSS reader. With this you may get to know what the design community read and compile your own comprehensive list of useful resources.
Below you can see the list of participants. We thank all of them for finding time to make a contribution into this interview.
- Jan Cavan (Dawghouse Design Studio)
- Chris Spooner ( Blog.SpoonGraphics, Line25)
- Nick La (N.Design Studio, Best Web Gallery, IconDock)
- Brad Colbow (Brad Colbow)
- Speider Schneider (Schneidersweb)
- Jacob Gube (Six Revisions)
- Jacob Cass (Just Creative Design)
- Paul Boag (Boagworld)
- Stuart Thursby (Stuart Thursby)
- Lee Munroe (Freelance Web Designer Lee Munroe)
- Shay Howe (Shay Howe)
- Sneh Roy (Little Box of Ideas)
- Grace Smith (Grace Smith)
- Piervincenzo Madeo (WeGraphics)
- Francisco Inchauste (Finch)
- Inayaili de Leon (Yaili)
- Jerome Gravel-Niquet (Jerome Gravel-Niquet)
- Paul Neave (Neave.com)
- Kat Neville (Safetygoat)
- Relly Annet-Baker (Relly Annet-Baker)
1. What RSS reader do you use? Are there any other tools you use to grab news feeds (Twitter, Facebook etc)?
A friend introduced me to a service called Instapaper and as I come across good blog posts during the day I use a bookmarklet to save the articles to Instapaper to read later. Most evenings I read trough the stories I saved up over the coarse of the day on my iPad using their app.
Another fantastic iPad app is Flipboard. It pulls in your Twitter or Facebook feed and creates a magazine around the content your followers link to. Since I started using that I haven’t been saving articles to Instapaper as much.
My connections on Facebook also supply a great deal of links to interesting material and sources.
With the exception of Smashing, which was a regular stop for me even before I joined the team, I can’t say I was impressed with any source, really. I’m actually saddened by some of the standard design community publications that have slipped so far down the evolutionary scale, I expect to see globs of primordial ooze trailing them. It speaks of a bigger problem with the content itself. Many sources that create original content, just seem to be heavy-handed with not wanting to offend anyone and so everything gets watered down. I can’t imagine one of those sites using my “Creative vs. The Marketing Team” article…or them enjoying the 900,000 reposts it had within the first 24 hours. Who dares wins!
I don’t use any other tool, however, I want to share a cool feature that Google Reader has that I rely on to find more RSS feeds to subscribe to — and it’s the “More like this…” feature. When you hover over an RSS feed and click on the downward-pointing arrow, it shows you a contextual menu where you’ll find this option. Using this feature allows you to discover some feeds you might also like based on your existing feeds.
Finally I also use an iPad app called FlipBoard that pulls in links from both Twitter and Facebook and presents them in a magazine format. This is an ideal way of consuming additional information not in my feeds.
We all use Twitter and Facebook on occasion, that goes without saying!
2. What blogs and news resources do you follow longest of all? Any sites you became disappointed with and excluded from the update list?
Returning to my disappointment rant, Great sources lose their…”UMPH!”, usually when the editor-in-chief leaves. I’ve seen too many come and go. Smashing, for one, is trying different approaches, hence, my opinionated rants and the showcases and other articles you’ll only find on other blogs that receive the Smashing RSS feed.
I wonder what has caused so many great publications of the past to fall on such…boredom? HOW magazine online became a boring, crap navigation pile of misinformation and superior attitude based on past success…very past. I only check back there when I need a laugh or to induce vomiting. Other blogs, even some terrific minor ones just get abandoned one day. I mourn them and forget which menu holds the link.
One feed I have dumped is Techcrunch. I really have no time for that blog anymore. I find the whole thing very ‘valley’ centric and Mike Arrington’s ego gets in the way of any serious journalism.
I stay subscribed to Mashable and TechCrunch as they usually break the big tech news first although I only find maybe 5% of their posts relevant or interesting to me.
Can’t think of any I’ve removed from the list recently, apart from those blogs that have become inactive.
As for any blogs I have become disappointed with I can not pin point anyone in particular. What I became disappointed with and try to leave off my RSS feeds are all of the blogs who publish post every day including list and gallery post. I completely understand a good list or gallery post from time to time as they do have their place. However, when all you do is roll out these post with the hopes of just obtaining traffic to sell advertising I become disappointed. I prefer to spend my time reading well-thought-out and insightful articles.
Sites I became disappointed with? They aren’t so many, but I’d like not to spell their names, maybe the reasons for my removing them from my list are more interesting:
- too many list articles (in my opinion lists are useful and easy to read, but they must have a sense);
- degradation of the quality;
- change of the main topics;
- strange promises, such as “How to became a WP theme developers in one day” or “How to build your custom online store in one minute;” I don’t say it’s impossible… I just want to say that it doesn’t sound professional for those who are looking for quality information;
- that blog is dead;
- too many articles per day;
- one article in the last two months.
Dammit! I’ve just made a list…
3. They say, print media is dead. What about you, do you read any offline newspapers/magazines?
A teacher of mine said there would always be print because people like to take books and magazines on the train or plane or read in bed. Well, obviously his students deserve our money back! The small readers give us a new digital world at our constant sides. Why use paper? Billboards are more effective for change and auto accidents with the new digital boards. Books are easily carried anywhere. Newspapers and magazines have created unbelievable UI to their sites. Print can’t keep up. Soon there will be too many damn trees clogging up the place.
I firmly believe in the power of print to provide a deeper impact than anything the web can hope to produce. Each media has its strengths, and when I’m looking for more rapid-fire flashes of inspiration or thought or news, there’s no better place than the web. But when I’m designing something, I turn to my ever-growing collection of books, magazines and annuals first before supplementing it with things I’ve saved from the web into various “inspiration” folders.
4. Could you take a challenge and share your RSS feed file with our readers?
Just to give you an idea of how big my RSS feed collection is, I have 1000+ unread items, and I just checked everything about 10 hours ago. Mind you, I recently reset my RSS feed collection too!
- 35 Designers x 5 Questions
The article includes suggestions on what to read and many other useful tips from some of the best web-developers all around the world.
- The History of Web Design Blogs
Do you know who was the first to run a web design blog? Get to know this and many more interesting facts from the history of blogging in this article.
- 12 Useful and Free Downloadable Web Design Books
A nice list of free e-books you might use while studying Web Design.
What do YOU read?
Please share with us what online and offline resources you read on a daily basis. What tools do you use to manage your daily info stream? Join in the talk in comments!