Grouping feeds using Yahoo Pipes

If you’re like me, you never stop reading the latest content available online. I always want to be updated on the topics I’m interested in. The way I keep up with all this info has gone through several stages:

  • Note the good sites and blogs in the notebook on my desk. When I take a look at the notebook some time and note a site or blog I haven’t visited for a while – open a browser and read the new content
  • Use my cell phone reminder service to periodically poke me about reading something written in my notebook, instead of relying on occasional glimpses on my notebook.
  • Use an online to-do and reminder service to keep track of what I want to read in place of the cell phone reminders.
  • Use feeds within Google Reader.

This is quite an evolution in its own. I have friends who are still on stage zero – keeping track of all this in their heads and opening sites periodically when they remember about them. This approach is at least time-consuming for me. Since reading Getting Things Done by David Allen, I’m more and more aware of faster, easier and better ways to organize and keep track of things. I though feed readers and Google Reader in my particular case were the latest thing and were the panacea for remembering what to read. Until the moment it got clogged. As of this moment, I am subscribed to 77 feeds, at least 1/3 of them publishing content daily. The problem for me is not the content, the problem is how to filter through it – Google Reader’s system is already too confusing with these folders and the simple feed list.

A friend of mine once told me about the existence of Yahoo Pipes, but I only discovered it now. It’s marvelous. You can do so much with it. The first thing I plan to do is at least have a better grouping method for my feeds than Google Reader’s folders. Here’s how it works:

  1. You go to http://pipes.yahoo.com, log in with your Yahoo account, and click on Create Pipe.pipes1
  2. Click on "Fetch Feed" from the Sources menu on the left. A Blank feed box is put on the canvas for you.pipes2
  3. Enter the URL of the feed you want to include. Then from the "Operators" menu click on Union. An operator box is added for you in the canvas. The Union operator can group up to five feeds into a single one. As you can see there are many other operators, which you can use to filter, extract only partial info or do anything custom with your feeds. You even have a RegEx operator.pipes3
  4. Include as many feeds as you like. You can also group several unions together. Then finally connect the last union to the Pipe Output Box.pipes4
  5. Save the pipe from the button on top and go back to the list of all your pipes. From there, you can immediately publish pipes, get an RSS feed for them, or get a badge for your blog. Do whatever you wish. And also take a look at the various other operators and options in Yahoo Pipes, they’re limitless.

In the end what I did is combined similar feeds together and included only one item for them in Google Reader to keep things simple. For me this makes it much easier to keep track and feel organized about my periodical readings. I hope you’ll find it useful, too.

Enjoy!