It seems to me that most of the Web 2.0 apps emerging every week are devoted to some aspect of retrieving and organizing Internet content. Every day, there are new tools for sharing favourites. Likewise, the ability of RSS to push relevant content to our desktops has led to a swarm of online applications for reading, organizing, and managing feeds.
Good thing too, because it doesn't take long to start feeling overwhelmed once you discover this potent automation tool. I'm struggling to keep up with the daily flood of posts provided by just nine feeds — and that's probably a fraction of the volume inundating the seriously feed-addicted. RSS has put us all at risk of information overload.
I have test-driven several of the feed readers linked from the sidebar at left below, but it was not until the recent discovery of two new tools that I began to feel that I might just be getting the chaos under control:
- Pageflakes is a higly customizable web organizer that combines a feed aggregator and reader with several useful desktop tools. You can add as many new feeds as you wish, organizing them on separate tabs for ease of access. Accept the default setup, which includes an address book, to-do list, notepad, weather, local movies, and more, or customize your desktop by choosing from a huge list of applets. You can append everything from mini spreadsheets and calculators to custom searches. I LOVE this application so much it has become my new browser start page.
- Netvibes is a virtually identical tool (I'm not sure which came first). Like Pageflakes, you can add new feeds, organize content and tools onto separate tabs, and customize the interface. It doesn't offer the selection that Pageflakes does, but it has one especially nice feature: you can color-code your different feeds for at-a-glance recognition. E.g. you could have all your web design feeds coded green, your pop culture feeds blue, and your mainstream media news stories orange.
I find both of these applications more intuitive and easier to use than the other feed readers listed here. Now, if I could just marry them, I'd be truly happy. For the time being, I'm using both of them to fend off the information deluge.