Information Filtering for Physicians

This is blogging tech talk again but a lot of people ask me how I do it. How can I write a post almost everyday, were do I find the time. That’s when I start blabbering about RSS feeds,, PubMed searches etc. Than I start seeing glazing staring eyes from the questioner. But it is really very simple.

Using a RSS reader is the most important part. I use Google reader. It enables me to read new information when I want to. With RSS feeds you don’t have to go to blogs websites on a daily basis to check for new information. RSS feeds get you updated only when it happens.

I have collected about 100+ feeds, far to many. Looking over them once a day takes about 30 minutes. On the video above you can see how a famous blogger Robert Scobler does it, learned from that. Learning the keyboard shortcuts are very useful. I used to look once a month for the feeds that I never read in Google reader and so now and than I give up on some feeds but they keep coming in in a much faster pace. But unfortunately don’t have half an hour every day and I agree with Jan from about how useful all these feeds really are, how many do you really use for input to your blog or just ideas. Not many, so since recent started to filter my feeds.

How do I filter the feeds?

Most experienced bloggers don’t use tags such as friends, psychiatry, or other categories. From The Four Hour Workweek by Tim Ferris. My experience is that tags get to grow out of control which isn’t very helpful.

Organizing all your feeds by genre is tempting but will burn you out. It is better to list them all out in a single view and use the “j” and “k” shortcuts [hitting the “j” key move you down, hitting the “k” moves you up] on Google Reader to navigate your feeds. This inserts variety into your daily read and lets valuable material stand out, as opposed to reading 30 posts in a row from the same author.

The best solution found for filtering your feeds is Priority-Based Feed Reading with Google Reader. I use four tags, a-list, b-list, c-list, and d-list. The a-list are the feeds I really want to read either because they are very interesting and/or have been shown to deliver quality input and ideas as for example Vicarious Therapy but also the RSS feeds for PubMed searches and the new content feeds from important journals such as JAMA, New England Journal, Medical Education and so on are all on my a-list or god blogs such as Mind Hacks. If you want to read a good explanation how to make RSS feeds for PubMed searches, have a look at this post on Laika’s MedLibLog on personalized medicine.

The b-list is for things I really want to read e.g blogs from other specialties. The c-list is mostyly for entertaiment such as the blog from John Cleese or Stephen Fry. The d-list is the list that changes the most. Feeds get deleted and feeds come in on this list. They’re mostly techblogs such as How to split an atom, Android Planet, Lifehacker.

If I am short of time I only read the a-list, if I have some more time I include the b and c-list. Mostly I read all the lists but this filtering is a very good way when having lack of time. I don’t try to catch up by reading everything, and I don’t worry about leaving unread items in my reader. I read what I can with the time I have available and don’t spend any time worrying about the rest. There isn’t enough time to read anything.

In der Beschränkung zeigt sich erst der Meister

A more geeky way of filtering your feeds is with Yahoo pipes, tried it but was far to complicated for me.

Thanks WebWorkerDaily (a-list)

How do you filter your information? Let me know some tips and tricks in the comments