Absorbing Information In The Spam Notifications Age

Tools helping you absorb information are necessities now. Not simply gathering information. Gone are the days you can use only RSS and call it a day. Almost every service under the sun wants to notify you about 14 times a day. Only to make sure you are forever spending your time on them. Mailbrew is the tool I been using to stop the onslaught.

I've used RSS for a long time. Absorbing was the same as gathering information then. In the past, all it took was to subscribe to a few feeds of some sites or blogs with summaries. Then going about and sitting down to read through those feeds of interests. RSS worked immensely well for the time. However, as more content ended up being produced, even RSS has become very unmanageable. You end up with multiple sources and feeds that are simply never ending. Requiring you to continuously spend your time gathering information rather than absorbing.

Worse still is with how much social media has changed where you have to gather. It is not enough to read through your RSS. You also now need to go through twitter, reddit, hacker news, countless of mailing lists, and all those blogs you follow. Gathering information can get exhausting. Especially if your focus is to absorb, learn, and move on with your day. Simply put, too much content to gather and too little time to absorb it all.

The way I been tackling this problem is having to reluctantly move away from RSS. Instead using a proprietary tool called Mailbrew. Somewhere around last year, DHH wrote a post on not using twitter directly. And the tool, he ended up focusing on to achieve that was the very same; Mailbrew. So I've gone sort of the same channel of thought, but taken it a bit further. I don't use Mailbrew only for twitter. I use it to gather all of the news I use to absorb.

With Mailbrew, I'm able to use multiple different sources. So I can still have all the RSS feeds I had before. But now, I can also add social media to the mix. So yes, twitter, reddit, and all the rest. All gathering information in different digests Mailbrew calls “brews”. Each brew of mine are centered on themes. For example, I have one for all software development news I tend to look for I call Active Software News. The list focuses solely on software development and gathers information from a few source types like hacker news, RSS, and twitter. Another would then be for everything I want to know of web3 I call Digitial Financials. Again same idea of gathering informational themes.

If only gathering information was enough, Mailbrew can help quite a lot. But that isn't the goal here. The goal is to not just gather information, but also absorb it. So the most important part of Mailbrew is in limiting how much of every source you are provided.

Starting with frequency, Mailbrew can send each one of your brew digests according to the frequency you desire. For Digital Financials, I have Mailbrew send out the brew each day in the morning. But for another public brew of mine called Active Software News, I have it only send a brew weekdays on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday at noon. However if frequency was the only limitation, then you would still have thousands of pieces to drown from when you open those digest.

The next and more important part is the count of each source. This I think is where Mailbrew shines and is why I've stuck to using it over alternatives. You see, the frequency is how you limit when you get information, but the count of each source is how you limit the exhaust of those sources. Instead of having every article sent to you waiting to be read in a forever list, you can limit the count by most recent or popular of those sources.

An excellent example of catering counts is the Digital Financials brew. Web3 is almost impossible to keep up to date without using twitter. Most of the news is centered around the platform and gathering alone can be extremely time consuming. Instead, I have a few set of lists on the brew to limit how much of each type of source is given. Some have three posts for source types and other just two for any given twitter handle. Along with limiting each post, the brew's source types also have the count of the source type limited. Meaning, not only how many post per author is given, but limiting how many posts of the source type as well. This allows to be informed, but only enough. So that it takes about 10-20 minutes a day to get informed of what's going on versus hours drained of my free time. It works well enough that I don't need to be constantly reading articles and posts the gathered information.

The power of Mailbrew with both limiting frequency and count of digest brews means you are able to focus. You don't or need to be on top of every piece of news available on those digests. You can still very much go down the rabbit hole of a specific source, but you don't have to start with everything from the start. Only enough to both gather information and absorb what you are gathering. Not constantly checking your sources, scrolling endless lists of social media, and being able to disable notifications for practically everything. So you can spend your day doing the thousand other things you have to do.