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RSS aggregator as a research tool

June 25th, 2009 Matt Leave a comment Go to comments
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A while ago, I made a blog entry about getting inspiration to come to you. Some of the ways I mentioned to do this would actually help as research tools as well. Let me be more specific. I think of the inspiration firers as being those unexpected bits of information that may trigger something off fairly unbidden.

When you sit down to do some research, your intention can be very different. You know the kind of thing you are looking for and it’s a matter of digging out the relevant information. If you’re like me (and many other people these days), your first port of call is the internet. The wealth of information is so huge, and so varied.

But, as I’m sure you know, it’s a double-edged sword. You are bound to find what you are looking for, but how much tripe must you wade through first? I have a few trusted sites that I have used in the past and know to contain good information. But I don’t keep these in a list. And it is a real pain to go from one to another of these trusted sites in turn.

What I need is something like a Google search, but only for those sites that I know and trust.

Well, an RSS aggregator can be that tool. I use Google Reader. Although you can use it as something to spark inspiration, that relies on you regularly checking it and reading the articles you’ve collected. The trouble is I now have quite a few website delivering information to Google Reader for me, and I simply don’t have the time to wade through it all (Google Reader has given up counting and just says 1000+).

But I do keep it as a bank of trusted information I can go to when I want to do some research. It’s simply a matter of typing what I’m looking for into Google reader’s search, just like you would with a normal web search. Google Reader will go through all the articles I’ve automatically collected and pull out the ones it thinks are most relevant. Plus I can filter it by folder (I have a load of blogs in a “science” folder for example). Job done.