Information Overload

I used to read the various blogs and sites I’m subscribed to every day, but at the start of the year I decided to change my strategy and just do a massive read-through once a week. I was spending probably an hour or two a night just to catch up.

We I logged in to Google Reader to check out my feeds yesterday I found over a 1,000 entries to trawl through, looking for anything interesting. Assuming an average of 5 seconds per headline (some I can dismiss immediately, some I need to read a bit of the article to decide) that means it would take me nearly an hour and a half just to decide which articles I want to read more of, nevermind reading the articles themselves!

As it stands it’s taken me the better part of a day each week to read them. And I only subscribe to a relative few (although one is a meta-blog) on a relatively narrow range of topics. What it shows is the huge amount of data we are now bombarded with each day.

Ironically, some of the posts I read last week were about the need for curators and I have to agree. I’ve long argued that publishing houses will move to become beacons in the torrent of content, that while anyone may be able to publish, they will provide a seal of approval.

I could of course try and filter my feeds, to limit the content to only what interests me, but that is very difficult, I’m not yet sure it can be done. If I limit things by keywords, or categories, I risk missing things that fall outside of them which I may also find interesting. I’m not sure such a function currently exists in any service, and may never do, it may only ever be something that can be done by a person. Much as Jason Kottke does.

So maybe that’s the tip for the next wave of successful authors, perhaps that’s where papers or correspondents will go.  Like film critics, we’ll find someone who shares our tastes and follow them, subsidising them to fish the interesting things from the data stream.  Maybe that’s why I’ve started posting to my Tumblr stream again.

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