I have a couple of little projects that have me thinking a lot about blogging. One of those projects is to groom and optimize my RSS feed reading. Crazy, right? I don’t like reading most mainstream news and I definitely don’t like Apple News. RSS is a good way to see new information that is generally relevant to what I want to think about.
As I groomed my RSS list, I’ve been thinking about the value of each site and the type of content they post. Within my collection I’ve identified four overlapping themes that help me evaluate if I want more of that content.
These are my least favorite posts. They are the town criers repeating the published news from the usual sources. Every Apple event, Google court case, or Twitter change is republished on hundreds of blogs. It’s not my thing, but I can understand why people like it. I probably only need one of these sites in my entire RSS collection and even that one is replaceable. Seems like a tough market.
These essays provide technical instructions or add context that is otherwise missing from one of the Announcer articles. I love The Explainer. Unlike Announcer articles, I come back to Explainer articles over and over again. Sometimes I’ll read a decade old Explainer just to understand some current issue. Explainers can be reviews or they can be step by step instructions, but they usually have the longest lived value in my reference collection.
Ugh. These posts aren’t just ads (although they are also ads). Usually The Hustler is selling some service, product, or ideology by using their current audience’s attention. Unlike regular ad copy, the Hustle articles entice readers by using topics that were previously popular on the site. The context is the value proposition. I don’t begrudge the Hustler because many of us have been there, but I do unsubscribe when the Hustle outweighs the Voice or Explainer articles.
When I think about my favorite sites, I think about their voice, their published personality. I don’t read a lot of sites about Apple technology, but the sites I look forward to reading, like Daring Fireball or Six Colors, all have a particular voice and opinion that feels familiar. After years of reading these sites they become character studies of the authors. It’s their idiosyncrasies, bias, and flaws that bring me joy. Give me an Explainer with a Voice any day of the week.