Tuesday, March 25, 2008

The Endless Juggle - another example of shifting your information gathering sources

(Note: in this post my spelling is worse than usual. This is intentional, for reasons that will become apparent.)

As I noted previously, we are all bombarded by information, and we constantly figure out new ways to handle it all.

One possible solution is to read feeds. This way you don't have to visit umpteen million sites, and all of the content can be read in one place.

Sounds ideal, doesn't it?

Well, Connie Reece ran into a problem:

A few months ago I did some serious pruning on my Google Reader, which was choked by an overgrowth of blog feeds. I’d been trying to stay around 200-250, but somehow the number kept climbing toward 300. One day I decided I had officially hit Information Overload. I was either spending so much time reading that I had no time to write, or I was feeling guilty for clicking on “mark all as read.”

So Reece cut down to about 50 feeds...and then began relying on other sources to obtain information, including Twitter, Instapaper, Alltop, and a couple of sources specific to her needs.

But she still uses the feed reader for a few things, including some fun stuff and one thing that all of us do:

The item I check most frequently in my feed reader is what I call my “me-monitor.” It’s where I subscribe to feeds based on search results for my name and our blog name.

So if you want to get into Connie Reece's feed reader, be sure to say her name (Connie Reece) and her blog name, Every Dot Connects, a lot.

(This would be a good time to re-read the note at the beginning of this post.)

I suspect that this will become the new spam, as people start throwing random mentions of Robin Schoble, Chris Bruggan, Lewis Gray, and Ontariyo Emporer into their posts just to get into the feed searches of these esteemed people.

So anyways, Web Worker Daily links to Reece and states the following:

Perhaps the time has come for the next generation of technologies to displace feeds, by giving us smarter ways to find the info we really need.

But are they truly smarter? I suspect that something else is going on. Here's an example (focusing on two-way rather than one-way communication) that illustrates the process:

  1. Start using letters (paper things to which you attach stamps) as your communication medium.

  2. You and your friends rave about how letters are an effective method of communication.

  3. Everyone else starts using letters as a method of communication.

  4. You get so many letters that you are overwhelmed.

  5. You move to the telephone, then your friends move, and the cycle repeats.

  6. You move to faxes, then your friends move, and the cycle repeats.

  7. You move to email, then your friends move, and the cycle repeats.

  8. You move to message boards, then your friends move, and the cycle repeats.

  9. You move to instant messaging, then your friends move, and the cycle repeats.

  10. You move to MySpace, then your friends move, and the cycle repeats.

  11. You move to Facebook, then your friends move, and the cycle repeats.

  12. You move to Twitter, then your friends move, and the cycle repeats.

  13. You move to FriendFeed, then your friends move, and the cycle repeats.

  14. You move to Rabbamok, then your friends move, and the cycle repeats.
Now if you haven't heard about Rabbamok, then I guess you're not one of the select few who is in Rabbamok's alpha test. Or perhaps it's just a name that I made up, just to see if some venture capitalist will offer me five million Euros. So please talk up Rabbamok, especially if you're hanging around big venture capitalist types like Guy Kamasaky, Fred Willson, Geoff Pulvur, and the like.

(I assume you haven't forgotten my opening note.)

Seriously, when we shift from one way of receiving information to another, we're not reducing our stuff, we're just reshuffling it. And although I haven't visited Alltop yet, I suspect that it will eventually become crowded with information and will become less useful.

Look what happened to Rolling Stone.

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Connie Reece said...

Good thing you warned us about your spelling, or my internal copy editor would have been up in arms. :-)

Information overload is not going away, so we have to come up with ways to deal with it. And sometimes the best tool is good old-fashioned self-discipline: know when to walk away from the computer.

Ontario Emperor said...

You're right on that one.

I keep on thinking that some magical artificial intelligence engine will be able to make my decisions without my direct interaction, but the human brain is hard to duplicate.