Kill your RSS reader, and use my amazing system for browsing the Web.

Innovation, the Internet, gadgets, and more.
May 1 2009 5:32 PM

Kill Your RSS Reader

And use my amazing system for browsing the Web.

(Continued from Page 1)

My system is similar, though I give my folders friendlier names. In the "8 a.m." folder, I put the sites I check first thing in the morning: Techmeme, Google News, Drudge, the Huffington Post, Buzzfeed, Digg, and others that round up the day's news. On the "10 a.m." list, I've got less pressing daily sites—things like Kottke, Andrew Sullivan, Marc Ambinder, Josh Marshall, Salon, and Fark. I've also got folders for pages that I like to check several times a week, folders for sites I check just once a week, and still more folders for blogs that I look at only a few times a month. Like Surtees, I've also got one more folder for blogs I'm not sure about—when I encounter something new that seems kind of interesting, I put it in the "Test" folder. I look at these from time to time, and if a site continues to appeal to me, I drag it into one of my other regular folders.

All this might sound like a bit of work, but I found that after the admittedly onerous initial setup time, maintaining this system is simpler than keeping your RSS reader organized. It's faster, too—an RSS reader takes time to switch between blogs, but when you open up a bunch of sites in tabs, you can move between them instantaneously. And of course, you get to see each site in full, not in a neutered RSS version. (Some caveats: If you keep a lot of tabs open for a long time, your browser might slow down, especially if you're using Firefox. I sometimes have to shut down my browser and load it up again to make it speedier. Session-recovery add-ons like Tab Mix Plus are helpful for this; they're also invaluable when your browser crashes.)

Advertisement

My system also makes liberal use of one of the best, least-known shortcuts built into modern Web browsers—the tab-managing powers of the middle mouse button, also known as the mouse wheel. If you think of the wheel only as a tool to scroll with, dear friend, you're missing out; the middle mouse button does so much more. For example, it's the best way to open a link in a background tab. Try it: Click and release the middle button on this link and—in most newer browsers—you'll see Slate's home page open up in a new tab. You can use the same button to quickly close unwanted tabs, too—click and release the tab you just opened, and voila, it disappears. In Firefox, the middle button has one extra power: Click an empty space in the tab bar and you'll open up the last tab you closed, which is a godsend if you accidentally sent away something important.

Armed with the middle mouse button, I skate through my day's blogs in short order. When I open up an aggregator like Buzzfeed, for example, I scan through each link and middle-click anything that looks interesting. These pages load up in a stream of tabs to the right of my current page. And that's pretty much how I spend my day—opening up a lot of tabs, middle-mouse-clicking all of their pertinent links, and then going from tab to tab in a never-ending quest for new news. I'm telling you, it's totally fun.

But that's just me—I'm curious how you do your daily surfing. I know everyone doesn't loathe RSS readers the way I do; if you've found a way to get right with RSS, or if you've come up with some completely different method of staying on top of the news, send me an e-mail or post a note to "The Fray" to let me know. (E-mail may be quoted by name in "The Fray," Slate's readers' forum; in a future article; or elsewhere unless the writer stipulates otherwise.) I'll pop open all of the best ideas in separate browser tabs and share the results in a future column.

Farhad Manjoo is a technology columnist for the New York Times and the author of True Enough.

TODAY IN SLATE

Justice Ginsburg’s Crucial Dissent in the Texas Voter ID Case

The Jarring Experience of Watching White Americans Speak Frankly About Race

How Facebook’s New Feature Could Come in Handy During a Disaster

The Most Ingenious Teaching Device Ever Invented

Sprawl, Decadence, and Environmental Ruin in Nevada

View From Chicago

You Should Be Able to Sell Your Kidney

Or at least trade it for something.

Space: The Next Generation

An All-Female Mission to Mars

As a NASA guinea pig, I verified that women would be cheaper to launch than men.

Terrorism, Immigration, and Ebola Are Combining Into a Supercluster of Anxiety

The Legal Loophole That Allows Microsoft to Seize Assets and Shut Down Companies

  News & Politics
Jurisprudence
Oct. 19 2014 1:05 PM Dawn Patrol Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s critically important 5 a.m. wake-up call on voting rights.
  Business
Business Insider
Oct. 19 2014 11:40 AM Pot-Infused Halloween Candy Is a Worry in Colorado
  Life
Outward
Oct. 17 2014 5:26 PM Judge Begrudgingly Strikes Down Wyoming’s Gay Marriage Ban
  Double X
The XX Factor
Oct. 17 2014 4:23 PM A Former FBI Agent On Why It’s So Hard to Prosecute Gamergate Trolls
  Slate Plus
Tv Club
Oct. 20 2014 7:15 AM The Slate Doctor Who Podcast: Episode 9 A spoiler-filled discussion of "Flatline."
  Arts
Behold
Oct. 19 2014 4:33 PM Building Family Relationships in and out of Juvenile Detention Centers
  Technology
Future Tense
Oct. 17 2014 6:05 PM There Is No Better Use For Drones Than Star Wars Reenactments
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Oct. 20 2014 7:00 AM Gallery: The Red Planet and the Comet
  Sports
Sports Nut
Oct. 16 2014 2:03 PM Oh What a Relief It Is How the rise of the bullpen has changed baseball.