Doing news right with Feedly and Google News

Read all about it

Get rid of social

I want to be well informed and, to the greatest extent possible, free from any kind of filter bubble. Hard to do that on Facebook. So the first step is to delete Facebook and Twitter. Now you have some time to design your news consumption.

Feedly

To me the very best part of the web is RSS feeds so I can quickly skim through hundreds of sites with a consistent interface and no ads. I used to do this with Google Reader but since that was killed I've found Feedly to be an awesome tool and I happily pay for the Pro version. The Android app is great. The web version sometimes gets lost in the list but is fast to use with keyboard shortcuts for cruising through your list. I keep Feedly stocked with news sites, hobbies, work related niche publications and everything I know I want to keep an eye on. The only gap is those unknown unknowns.

Google News

Google News is my current fix for finding the stories and context that I don't get through RSS.

What works

As a learning system Google News pretty quickly figures out what you're interested in. It's not perfect so you have to spend some time training it. Once in a while it will decide you need every word written about Ina Garten, but you can easily tell it that it's wrong. A more subtle tip is to often click sources that you violently disagree with. Google News has some tendency to surface different angles but it definitely helps to signal that you are open to uncomfortable takes on a story. This is a powerful filter bubble burster.

Feed mechanics

Having escaped most social media (I still have LinkedIn which is the cockroach of platforms) I really hate the feed based approach that Google takes with News. I understand it but I hate it. Probably the worst usability crime is that it will often refresh without being asked. I'll be halfway down the list, spot an interesting article, get distracted, and then when I switch back I see that tempting story for a fraction of a second before the whole feed reloads. Often that story is then nowhere to be found. There is a feature to save for later, but I try to avoid this because future me isn't likely to have time either and it adds the burden of yet another to-do list to keep track of.

Don't make me read it twice

Related to the feed is the tendency to show me the same story again, and again, and again. Other than ignoring a topic or publication there is no mechanism to just dismiss a story. I know that the algorithm has worked really really hard to find it but I don't need to see it every day for a week or more. It's OK, in fact desirable, to be done with the news. As with the feed I know that it's someone's job at Google to work on engagement and my time is an externality to their optimization algorithm. It's a big irritation all the same.

Podcasts

Lastly for me I also get a lot of context from podcasts. I use Podkicker Pro on Android (also worth paying for). We live in peak podcast times and I don't have enough time to listen to everything that I want to.

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News: U.S. Used Missile With Long Blades to Kill Qaeda Leader in Syria

U.S. Used Missile With Long Blades to Kill Qaeda Leader in Syria

As previously reported India had rocket propelled swords in the late 18th century!

News: We May Be Living in a Simulation, but the Truth Still Matters

We May Be Living in a Simulation, but the Truth Still Matters

I like this article because Kara Swisher actually gets the history right. Read my series on this starting with Can I move to a Better Simulation Please?.

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News: Facebook defends its simple 2 question survey on the trustworthiness of news publishers

Updated on Friday, May 22, 2020
Facebook defends its simple 2 question survey on the trustworthiness of news publishers

What if everyone recognizes a news source and say half of them trust it but it isn't true?

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News: When should web designers use modal overlays?

When should web designers use modal overlays?

"OK, yes, there are times when modals make sense (compose new tweet comes to mind), but if the web has a bigger annoyance than this (apart, possibly, from autoplay video), I don't know what it is."

Please enjoy the irony of trying to read this article on a mobile phone while the text shifts crazily around the page to make room for the autoplay video ad.

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News: We Need to Raise Taxes for Shareholders and Cut Them for Companies

News: New York Times responds to Donald Trump's lawsuit threat: bring it on

News: Brexit: British clubs could suffer in transfer window, warns sports expert

Brexit: British clubs could suffer in transfer window, warns sports expert

If only this had been made clear before the vote. FFS.

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News: California may end tyrannical daylight savings

California may end tyrannical daylight savings

Yes, I'd vote for this. Please do it.

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News: Wisdom teeth removal is rarely necessary

Wisdom teeth removal is rarely necessary

Glad to hear it because my dentist is always wanting to rip out my wisdom teeth and I've always refused...

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