Reading Hacks

Reading Hacks
Image created by me (human) and rendered in AI

RSS, or, Really Simple Syndication, is having a comeback moment for many people. I’ve used this invaluable web tool since 2005 to hack my reading workflow and highly suggest others pick this up. It’s a web feed that allows users and applications to access updates to websites in a standardized, computer-readable format. It’s an easy way for you to keep up with news and information that’s important to you, and helps you avoid the conventional methods of browsing or searching for information on websites.

My feed reader of choice: Feedbin

The benefits of using RSS include the ability to stay up-to-date with the latest news and information from your favorite websites without having to visit each site individually. It also helps you avoid the clutter of email newsletters and other notifications, and allows you to easily organize and filter the content you receive.

RSS was originally introduced in 1999 by Netscape Communications Corp., for use with its MyNetscape portal. After Netscape abandoned the standard, software maker UserLand picked up development. Although RSS formats have evolved from as early as March 1999, it was between 2005 and 2006 when RSS gained widespread use, and the (“”) icon was decided upon by several major web browsers. RSS feed data is presented to users using software called a news aggregator and the passing of content is called web syndication

All that to say, is that most of your web reading sources come to you, as opposed to visiting each website to browse their content feed. I’ve subscribed to hundreds of websites, blogs, tweets, YouTube videos, newsletters over the years and all without leaving my RSS feed reader. You can then save an article to read for later use. Read what you want, when you want. Brilliant.

After gathering your content, then what? For me, I take notes and save them for later.


Enter Readwise Reader- One tool to benefit, or hack your reading experience. With the content I consume via RSS feeds, I can then highlight and annotate notes inside the app. Some other benefits they offer:

  1. Annotation, tagging & highlighting text are the killer features of digital reading.
  2. Ghostreader is a GPT-3 companion for reading. It will analyze the text and then format a summary for you, ask questions, define terms and simplify complex language.
  3. Text-to-speech- listen to any document narrated with the lifelike voice of a human.
  4. Integrated with your favorite tools- Your annotations can flow effortlessly from your reading app into your writing tools. Instead of wasting hours of reformatting, reorganizing, and repeating, Reader eliminates the hassle. Export to Readwise, LogSeq, Obsidian, Roam etc.
  5. Read anywhere, anytime. Online, offline. iPhone, iPad, MacBook or the web.

Readwise is a companion app to Readwise Reader. When I consume books on my Kindle , I can highlight and annotate notes in that device. Those notes are then synchronized into Readwise and then automagically imported into my personal knowledge database for later. The same occurs when I use Apple Books. Neato.


The purpose of  note taking isn’t to remember- it is having the freedom to forget and reference for later.

Think of all this as taking a pencil and highlighter to writing in the margins of a physical book to take notes on and review later. But digitized.

Readwise is $8.99/mo. Matter, an alternative to Readwise, but needs more development in my mind, is also $8/mo. To be clear, this is not a piad sponsorship. But I wouldn't turn down a gratis subscription either.