Daily digest email RSS reader

Alasdair North - 

Update: I've built this as a webapp and it's currently in beta testing. You can sign up at http://www.mailfeed.io. It's free!

Several times over the last few years I’ve tried to build an RSS reader into my daily habits. I’ve wondered if it can do a better job than Twitter of helping me follow the writing of people I like and admire. My Twitter feed is at the point where it’s easy to miss articles that people post - especially if they’re not confident enough to repost them several times.

For some reason I’ve never built that habit though. Maybe it’s because I was missing out on BJ Fogg’s Tiny Habits rules (I’m following it this week and it’s proving effective). Maybe it’s because most RSS readers are designed to make you feel guilty about the amount you haven’t read - with big bold ever increasing numbers pushed in your face all the time.

I realised something at the weekend though. I do have a pretty effective way of getting articles into my life already: email digests. I’m currently signed up to:

Wow! I’m pretty proactive about unsubscribing from things, so it’s obvious that this is a delivery method that works for me. I like the way it forces its way into my routine, but that it’s quick to dismiss and archive the email. Any articles I miss are gone, they don’t stick around to make me feel guilty. Maybe I should use this method for following the posts of people I care about too, not just whatever filters to the top of the communities mentioned above.

I’d like an RSS reader based around a daily digest of the new posts people have posted. Every morning it would send me one email containing a list of all the posts that had been published the previous day. I could use some sort of digest email from an existing service, but I think a service based around the email could do much better:

  • I want links to the articles as they were posted, not shown within some reader that messes up formatting, code samples, etc.
  • I want the system to detect which sites I always read and put them at the top of the list.
  • I want sites that I never read to be deprioritised, perhaps going dormant after a few months so they’re not included in the email.
  • I really don’t want there to be anything in the system that aims to make me feel guilty for not reading things.

I haven’t found anything like this so I think I’m going to build my own little system - starting off with a command line script and working up to a subscription web service. Is that something you’d be interested in helping me beta test? If so please leave a comment below.

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I'm the CTO of viaLibri, a director and web developer at Runway, and an active member of St. Barnabas Church.

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