Optimize reading articles experience

Introduction

Learning is an essential part of doing anything. There are many different ways to learn something. Like active learning (studying) and passive learning (gaining experience), moving towards some particular goal and exploring unknown places looking for new ideas. One can learn using various types of perception - audial, visual, haptic, speech, etc. Learning is important in all directions: improving your existing skills or getting new.

I think one of the most straightforward ways of learning is active learning towards some particular goal. Some online-course might be an example: you start a course to let’s say learn new skills and after you’ve completed the course you can say that you’ve accomplished the goal and learned something.
One of the most difficult ways of learning is exploring something new because there is no single way of doing that.

All the ways of looking for ideas can be split into two groups: evaluating your own experience or share thoughts with others. Sharing thoughts - communication - can be with speech (talks/discussions), visual (reading or watching something), audial (listening podcasts), etc.
What way to use depends on a personal preference: some people like to watch videos, some listen to podcasts, others to read something, and so on.

I’m not going to write a whole paper on that topic. What I wanted to show is just that there are many and many ways of exploring stuff. And one of them is reading articles. Many people write articles sharing their experience, providing tutorials, opinions, and so on. And many people read articles because many of them are cool.

So, here is the topic: I’d like to share my experience on how I optimize the way of reading articles.

Explore

The first thing is to find sources of content. I’d say that there are three types of sources:

  • original publications - here is the first place content was published to
  • reposts and translations - some articles got cross-posted on different platforms and/or translated
  • aggregation services - these are usually some websites or email subscriptions with a group of links to publications but might be something like a telegram channel as well

So, here the simplest way to explore is to find your favorite aggregation services and look through the articles there. There are a number of examples of aggregation services: AndroidWeekly, KotlinWeekly, ProAndroidDev Digest, Now in Android, Android Broadcast (RU), VladSonkin Digest and so on. Some of them share content on a weekly or bi-weekly basis, some of them have some daily posts. Some just share links with a short overview while others also provide their own view on the topic.

The more advanced way is to deal with original sources by yourself. Here RSS comes to the rescue. One can use some RSS reader (Inoreader, Feedly, etc) and make your aggregation service for your own purposes. You have set up your RSS reader, but it doesn’t have any feeds. Where you can find them? This is a tricky part of doing something by yourself - finding sources of original content might be not easy. You can try to Google some keywords and find some developer blogs or something like that. That probably should work. At the same time, you should not forget about aggregation services. One of the advantages of the aggregation services like Android Weekly that people send links to service, then these links are moderated and some of them appear in the final list. Crowdsourcing is amazing. So, you can add an aggregation service to your RSS feed as well and from time to time move some interesting sources to the RSS reader.

Also, you can try to find someone’s RSS lists, there might be something interesting for you that you can use. For example, I’ve shared my RSS list, which is updated daily, so new sources will appear shortly.

Filter

Now when you have a list of article sources you need to filter good articles to read. There might be many articles written per day and it would be waste of time to try to read everything. Instead, you should find what is interesting to you.
The simplest way of filtering is just to let other people filter content for you. Here I refer to aggregation services. They do a pretty good job of filtering interesting articles. But at the same time, the issue comes with losing control. Different people have different experience, background, and so on. So for some junior developers, it might not be the best to read deep-dive articles because too much information will be missed. And instead, some high-skilled developers might not be interested in some high-level tutorials or reviews.
Here it is up to you to decide: whether to rely on third-party content filtering or apply yours. Doing something by yourself takes more time, but has advantages because one can find better articles to read.

Read

Here everything is simple. Just read what is interesting for you.

Save to Read Later

But it might be difficult to be on track, as it might happen so that more articles are written than you’re able to read. In this case, one can save articles to read later when you have time and read at your pace. I use Pocket for that purpose.
But again there might be a situation when you save more articles to read than you actually read. No issue here, you should just apply second-layer filtering. Choose the max amount of articles to keep and remove everything that exceeds the limit. No worries - reading all saved articles is not a goal. You can read as much as you want or can and pick the most interesting articles for you. Even if you read only 1 article it is better than nothing.

Share

Last but not least - you can share your experience with others. You can write articles and share interesting articles that you’ve read. You can post it to social networks, create your digest or telegram channel.
And here is my turn - today I decided not only to share the list of my RSS feeds but also create a telegram channel with articles I found interesting: @krossovochkin_newsletter.
Usually, it takes much time to maintain some digests or telegram channels. But I found some easy way to do that - automate!
To share my RSS feeds I use export from Inoreader. To share interesting articles I just export articles tagged in Pocket. Almost 0 effort.
This telegram channel has just some filtered list of articles I think are interesting. Maybe it will be useful to someone.

Conclusion

Reading articles is good for exploring new ideas and learning others' opinions. But managing your reading is not a simple task. Hope that I was able to give some inside on a one way of doing that.

Happy reading