8.12.2005

Deja View, or Why Too Many RSS Feeds May Not Be A Good Thing

In the beginning, there was RSS. Along came a good feed reader, and my daily work-related surfing habits changed dramatically: 30-60 minutes every day of browsing individual websites to keep up with what's happening were replaced by 5-10 minutes of scanning headlines and occasionally reading a complete story.

Time was saved. Life was good.

But that was then, and this is now. It's no exaggeration to say the number of RSS feeds out there has grown exponentially in 2005. This is largely due to two factors: blogs, and publishers adding RSS feeds to websites that didn't have them before.

Naturally, as the number of feeds proliferated, so did the population of my Favorite Feeds folder. One year ago, there were probably 10-15 feeds I looked at every day. Today, there are easily over a hundred. My 5-10 minutes of scanning headlines has ballooned to 20-30 minutes of reading feed updates. Twice a day. And that's just to stay current: never mind the forays into new and interesting feeds that crop up all the time.

Information overload is very real these days.

What makes it worse, I'm seeing a growing amount of overlap among feeds. For one thing, many news feeds pick up the same story. Then somebody who sees that new item blogs about it, and somebody else sees that blog and posts a reference to it. And so on. I find myself seeing the same material, in one way or another, more than once on a regular basis.

Call it Deja View: the feeling of "haven't I seen this someplace before?"

Is this happening to you, too?

At least one solution is obvious, albeit painful: cut back on the number of feeds I'm reading every day. It's not an easy decision to make, but it's probably inevitable. The risk of missing something important has to be weighed against the benefit of gaining back some valuable time.

I have no idea which feeds I'll stop reading regularly. But I'm going to have to start somewhere. Tempus fugit.

2 comments:

Harry Nunn said...

Rick, I'm having the same problem. I'm just going to cut back on the feeds.

Ted Roche said...

Great question. There's a couple of solutions: get an aggregator that lets you sort into categories: General News, FoxPro, Local, etc., and then you can collapse categories and only focus on high prriority most of the time, browsing when you want to pursue info on less pressing stuff.

Two: It's an echo chamber, and you can use that to your advantage. Andrew and Garrett won't let pass a good Calvin post without pointing, so drop Calvin and let them filter for you. You do risk missing one once in a while, so you could keep original source bloggers subscribed, but in a different category, and follow the "aggregators."