The tyranny of news feeds

Since I first learned about RSS and Atom and feeds and Bloglines, I’ve had the same problem that all too many people do – too much to read.

In the old days, I had too many newspapers, magazines, and books. I’ve canceled all of my subscriptions, so you’d think I’d be ahead. Alas, no. Since all the news and nonsense that I read is on the web, and it all has feeds, it’s all now funneled to me via Google Reader. Day to day, this works great, but it’s not ideal. Until people perfect some sort of algorithmic way of matching my news feeds to my location, my mood, and my context, I am stuck plowing through them by brute force.

Google Reader really helps with that. I read all of my feeds via its “All Items” view, and then I just churn through things with the keyboard shortcuts. Add Firefox and a few useful extensions, and it goes quickly. I read the news I want, see the notifications I want, and it’s free. How could I complain?

Two ways mostly – first, when I clicked the “Mark All As Read” link inadvertently, I lost a slew of things I wanted to read. Aargh. And more commonly, the fact that old, unread feeds fall out of the queue with no warning, never to be seen again. Curiously, my posts on these issues are some of my most read entries here, so I suspect these frustrations are not mine alone.

A few weeks back, I posted a summary of the trends feature for my reading, with the thrilling promise of updating it as time went by. Time’s gone by, so with no further ado…

From your 297 subscriptions, over the last 30 days you read 17,969 items, starred 46 items, and shared 9 items.CropperCapture[4]

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Phew. What an awful lot of stuff. Still, I did manage to trim down the number of feeds somewhat, and I am getting better at digging through. I think it’s great that they give you the tools to follow this.

I am about to head off to nine days offline. This means I will be approximately 6,000 posts in the hole, not counting the ones that fall off of the back. What a fate. Tune back in 30 days from now to see how that goes.

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