Tools

I’m often asked about my reading and writing habits. What follows is an opinionated workflow (of sorts) including tools that make things easier for me.

This page is occasionally updated. The last changes were made on 15 March 2017.

Reading tools

I get most of my links from Twitter, RSS and email newsletters.

Twitter

At its best, Twitter is a steady source of interesting things to watch and read. At its worst, it’s a firehose of depression. I try to keep my following list under control so I’m not overwhelmed. I once said to myself it wouldn’t ever exceed 200 accounts. Then 300. 400 is the latest limit I’m yet to go past. I don’t follow any accounts that publish more than 10-15 times a day, which makes things easier. I think those sorts of things are better followed using RSS, if possible.

Here’s a dirty secret—I see almost every Tweet posted by every account I follow. I use Tweetbot as my Twitter client on macOS and iOS, and it can sync position. So no matter what device I’m using, I can choose to pick up where I left off, or skip to the top to see the latest stuff.

I mostly save links to Safari’s Reading List to come back to. I have more interesting-looking links in my Reading List than I’ll ever get to, but I try to keep up to date and to chip away at the backlog.

RSS

Yes, I still use RSS. I can’t see myself ever stopping unless something amazing happens. (I hope it does! Amazing things are great.) I use and wholeheartedly recommend Feedbin. I use it in Safari on desktop and laptop machines. It’s entirely usable on iOS, but I prefer Reeder as my client there.

Email newsletters

I subscribe to several newsletters, of which the most useful to me comes every lunchtime containing links from the people I follow using my Reading.am account.

Other useful or interesting ones include:

You can subscribe to newsletters using Feedbin, although I’ve not really tried that yet.

Tasks

Links that require an action other than simply reading, watching or listening go into an appropriate Todoist project.

Writing tools

After excursions with Squarespace and Tumblr, this site started afresh in July 2016 on self-hosted WordPress. I’m (slowly) developing my own theme but continue to use the default Twenty-Sixteen theme in the meantime, with some minor tweaks. I use a bunch of different plugins, some of which I outlined in a previous (now archived) post about setting up a WordPress site for a news team.

I compose quick link posts in WordPress using Markdown, or sent to the WordPress iOS app via Tweetbot, Safari or Reeder. I write longer posts using Byword for macOS and iOS. In the unlikely event that I write a 10,000+ word post, I’ll do it in Scrivener.

I’m increasingly interested finding ways to collect and connect thoughts, links, ideas and concepts. The idea of a personal wiki appeals. I’m fascinated by Mike Caulfield’s Wikity project. I’ve started to use DEVONthink more and more over the past 12 months and it is slowly replacing my Pinboard account as well as my use of Notes.app. A hugely powerful and intelligent app, its search and tagging systems have vastly improved the way I save and retrieve information.