I built the awareness that came along with API Evangelist using my Google Reader and RSS feeds, and when Google deprecated the application I developed my own custom solution for consuming feeds. Somewhere in 2018 or 2019 I began falling out of love with processing my feeds each day. I lost interest in why I enjoyed doing it, and just didn’t believe it was worthwhile anymore. Since then I have had little interest in looking into Feedly or reading news from across the tech sector and beyond. But, in recent weeks I am finding a renewed love of reading my feeds, something that is more about why I do it, over the technology of how I do it, and it is something I wanted to write about so that I could have a snapshot of what brought me back around to working my way through hundreds or thousands of posts each day to find those gems that matter.
Why Did I Do My Feeds In the Early Days?
When I first started studying the world of APIs in 2010, Google Reader was the way that I learned about what was happening. My GMail and Google Reader were open all day and I consumed hundreds or thousands of feeds each day. I would consume the feeds of API pioneers like Amazon, eBay, and Salesforce, as well as the upcoming Github, Twilio, Stripes, and other API upstarts. Then I would write about what I saw in real time, publishing upwards of 3-5 blog posts each day on API Evangelist. This is how I made a name for myself in the emerging API universe, by aggregating, curating, and then distilling down what I saw in my Google Reader, and then published stories of what I thought for others to consume. This felt like a worthy approach to making sense of what was happening, and one that along with Twitter, kept me with a steady stream of readers who were tuned into what I had to say each day, making my feeds something that had a positive impact on my life.
Curating Feeds For Consumption by Other People
Once Google Reader went away I wasn’t happy with the alternative feed readers of the time and decided to build my own. By that time I had a sprawling system I called “laneworks” for profiling APIs, and the building blocks they were using to deliver their API Operations, so it made sense for me to use the same platform for processing the RSS feeds of blog and news feeds I had formerly been consuming via Google Reader. I was able to introduce some significant refinements in my process that allowed me to curate, tag, and organize what I was consuming each day so that I could more easily search across the archives, and I thought, “why don’t I share this with my audience”. So I began taking everything I had curated by Sunday night each week and publishing as a list of relevant API news grouped by topic. I did this for a couple of years, but over time I realized that it had changed the essence of why I was curating information. I wasn’t just doing it for my own knowledge anymore, and I felt compelled to make sure I had done the work every week for everybody else, which ultimately began to consume my weekends. Ultimately I feel this is what led to me falling out of love with the work-—it became an (unapaid) job I had to do for someone else.
Finding Purpose and Meaning in My Feeds Again
Last month I fired up a brand new Feedly account so that I could rebuild my feeds in a new way. This time what I would be curating would be for very different reasons. I wouldn’t be curating articles for sharing as a list of what is happening, or even writing stories (sometimes I might), but this round is about feeding my knowledge and ideas for my new podcast Breaking Changes. I am not looking to have my finger on the pulse of what is happening not so I can meet my daily deadlines of blog posts, or weekly curated lists, it is just to find the most interesting ideas, people, companies, and trends I possibly can. The bar is much higher for what I curate. I am really looking through thousands of blog posts, news articles, and social media posts looking for the gems. The interesting angles. The ideas and topics that aren’t necessarily getting talked about in some of the other podcasts in the API or wider tech space. The dynamics have shifted back to where I am once again interested in clicking through that massive amounts of information, and the outcomes are something that make me feel like I am doing something nourishing and rewarding, not just sitting down at the cow clicker each day—-renewing my love of my feeds.
I like processing large amounts of information. It makes my brain happy. However, I need a purpose. A reason for doing this often mind numbing work. If you aren’t interested you just won’t have the eye for what matters. With my current incentive model I feel I have a much better eye for what matters. A lot of the bullshit fluff posts that you see from tech blogs and startups don’t matter to me. I don’t care. I just mark as read and move on. I am not looking for SEO vomit. I am looking for compelling stories of how companies, organizations, institutions, and government agencies are struggling with their digital transformation, and how APIs are shifting what is happening around us each day. Often times I am not even looking for the direct API story, and looking for the stories I know that APIs are behind, but haven’t been cast as the lead character in whatever story was being told. I am looking for just the right person within a large enterprise organization who has the perspective that matters to a story I want to tell on Breaking Changes. Overall, I find this a pretty good place to be, and it makes me happy to be back in my feeds with a purpose, because it provides that volume of information I like to intellectually gnaw on–keeping my brain occupied, but also helping me stay elevated in what I do as the Chief Evangelist at Postman, and in the next wave of API Evangelist. Whatever that is.