How you can be more productive with RSS Readers, not by any manual effort, but by the RSS Reader being more smarter.
An obvious method is personalisation, readers like Attensa are the typical example, and the Engagd application of APML attention data now enables you to personalise feeds, even if your RSS Reader doesn’t have this feature.
This is more productive as the reader learns what you like and will deliver that news to you first, this means if you don’t have time to read everything, at least you read the stuff that’s important to you personally.
Another is clustering, this usually means that for any given post, other posts in your RSS Reader will be extracted to sit next to it, or under it as one digest of new posts about the same thing.
It’s such a handy feature if you’ve been on holidays or for breaking news…open up your RSS Reader to find a post on eg. Facebook being banned in the workplace, all other posts in your RSS Reader about the same thing will be listed next to this post, this saves you scanning for other new posts on the same thing.
New posts in your RSS Reader that are clustered would be ranked on top of the pile in your river of news (or you could still have date sorted order), as it’s assumed a story with many similar posts clustered is popular, since everyone is talking about it, and you would most likely want to read this first when you open your RSS Reader.
This is 2 fold for productivity: posts are clustered and also ranked higher in your RSS Reader.
Some clustering readers will also cluster stories you have already read in the past, I like this option, as sometimes you take a week to write a post, and it’s handy to go back to your RSS Reader and get a cluster around a story whether you have read the clustering posts or not.
Another option would be to additionally get clustering stories from feeds you don’t subscribe to, just for a more rounded picture.
I suppose you can kind of achieve this by clicking Technorati Links or Sphere related stories on the post footer or feed post flare.
I’ve written about this all before and how Google Reader could adopt clustering know-how from it’s sister news site.
Maybe a memetracker like megite could offer a 3rd party clustering button for Google Reader, for any given post in Google Reader you could click the cluster button to get other similar stories from the blogosphere, via the discovery engine.
Megite could even go further to have an interface for one blog, eg. mashtracker…memetrackers are more sophisticated than something like Technorati links, I think a given post has to be considerably popular for the memetracker to work well.
Regardless, this type of 3rd party feature is not the same as what I mentioned at the start of this post, that is, a clustering feature to sort your new posts (and maybe old posts) by popularity and cluster all new posts (and maybe old posts) around one post.
In this respect you can read all new posts about breaking news in one digest, you no longer have to trawl through your RSS Reader to find posts about the same thing.
The next move for clustering would be memetracker widgets, where each cluster would be a widget, so you could embed it into a blog post.
Some RSS Readers are part of a social network, in these instances you can add friends, look at their profiles, share links with each other, some of these are Spokeo, FeedEachOther, and others…also see mugshot groups.
BlogRovr is in a class of its own, give it some feeds and then any page you visit will let you know if any posts from your feedset have linked to this page.
This can make up for lack of clustering in your RSS Reader in relation to a new product. Just say you find out about the latest product called Pulse.Plaxo. Instead of going through your RSS Reader, let it come to you, just go to the new website (Pulse.Plaxo), and all new posts, from your RSS Reader, that link to this webpage will be listed for you in a digest.
This is a bit harder for a topic like “Facebook banned in the workplace” as all the posts in your RSS Reader about this topic may not point to the same exact page, so you won’t get it in one digest, perhaps BlogRovr could incorporate some memetracking elements, rather than just linking.
Their latest release is juiced up a little more with Google Reader plugin and recommendations. The Google Reader plugin becomes a substitute for inhouse clustering, only thing is do you click on the clustered post on the BlogRovr slider, or do you go look for that post in your RSS Reader.
Otherwise just rely on search, since Google Reader doesn’t have search, I made a custom search engine, you can even get a script to put a box into Google Reader itself.
NOTE: You need to refresh your OPML by reloading it from time to time, as Google Reader doesn’t have a unique OPML URL, arghh!
NEW: BlogRovr now can search in your OPML.
Personal - already mentioned Engagd
Social - aideRSS generates filtered feed versions for a given feed based on social activity (popularity)
Manual - lots of remixing tools
MyFeedz allows you to add feeds, then choose some tags, and content will be delivered by tag, also has an option to let the system create tags for you…other features are personalisation and clustering.
WizAg allows you to add feeds and then create tags (concept topics) to read content, it also has clustering.
Author tags - both SuprGlu and MySyndicaat differ as you can enter a feed set, and then read content by tags based on the tags authors applied to their blog posts.
Please suggest other ways RSS Readers can be more productive?
NOTE: this post is not about people being productive with methods and workarounds, but moreso the RSS Reader having smarter features.
[ADDED 07/09/07: SharpReader threads are meme enough for me]