Late to the party

One of the problems with using an RSS Aggregator is that it gives the illusion of allowing you to keep up with a practically infinite number of weblogs. Whenever you find a link to a new weblog with an interesting entry, the temptation is high to subscribe to this blog to keep up with other writings on it. After doing this for a while, you end up with a huge number of subscriptions and find that there is a limit to what you can keep up with after all, even when using an aggregator.

I've been suffering from this effect for a while. I currently have over 200 subscribed feeds and over 15,000(!) unread items. I simply don't have the time to keep up. These unread items have a fairly low signal-to-noise ratio - most of them I won't be interested in, but some I will, which is why I'm hesitant to just delete them. The problem is that feeds with a high signal-to-noise ratio tend to get lost between all the others, and I miss out on stuff or miss the context when reading an item without knowing the history (previous items) behind it. I really need to start purging my subscriptions to a more manageable size...

Anyway, this happened to me yesterday when I finally read some details about Sam's proposal for a successor to the RSS crown. Having missed the history prior to it, I did not realize he wasn't talking about RSS itself and left some out-of-place comments on his blog. Then today I finally found Tim Bray's article through a link from Mark and things started to make a lot more sense.

I think it's a great idea to wipe the slate clean and start over fresh knowing what we know now. Let's create a Really Simple Syndication format that's not just Really Simple for the feed-producer, but also for the feed-consumer. If this evolves into a standard, SharpReader will most definitely support it.

I apologize for being late to the party. Hopefully there's still a piece of pie left for me... pie left for me... pie left for me...

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Somewhere in that morass of unread items, you should find Paul Freeman talking about his English Football League organization of feeds, with a Premier folder of people whose every word will be read delightedly, dropping down to the Division Three folks where sometimes a post title is good enough to warrant a look. I'm not very good about following it, since I tend to just stay up until 03:00 reading for three nights, and on the fourth delete all the feeds that annoy me, but it's really a very good scheme for not completely giving up on folks who've shown some potential: one good post earns you some time fighting it out for attention in the minor leagues. I think I'll try it again, after first making sure I'm not currently syncing my subscriptions to anywhere public on my server ;)

Posted by Phil Ringnalda at June 27, 2003 1:37 AM

Human Bandwidth
One of the tenets leading to the build-out of the telecom industry's fiber optic networks was that we wanted massive...

Trackback from Rodent Regatta at June 27, 2003 7:57 AM

Actually Phil, that one wasn't in my morass of unread items yet. So damn you for suggesting yet another feed for me to subscribe to - can't you see I'm dying here man?

Ok Orient, into division two you go...

Posted by Luke Hutteman at June 27, 2003 11:47 AM

One thing that I notice is a lot of duplicate articles across feeds. I think it would help remove a lot of clutter if there was way to delete all articles with the same title across all feeds.

Posted by Patrick Winfield at June 27, 2003 1:44 PM

RSS Midsummer Madness
Whenever I start thinking about RSS, I know I've been spending too much time in the blogging world, and it's time to unplug for a while. The fact that I've just redesigned my home page, and started using SharpR...

Trackback from Legends of the Sun Pig at June 28, 2003 6:38 PM


Trackback from Datagrid Girl at June 28, 2003 9:01 PM

Thats exactly the problem I have too. So, I've moved the really really interesting ones into a few Sharp Reader folders, and I just keep the others hanging around for those 3am readfests.

I've found that the more feeds you are subscribed to, the more interesting the threaded discussion feature of Sharp Reader is. I'm subscribed to a few feeds that I have no chance to follow [winer, scoble, ruby, MSDN] just so I can see when people refer to them. That way if theres an interesting "discussion" going on, I can quickly see who's talking about who and what.

Posted by Dan F at June 29, 2003 8:46 AM

I finally got round to checking my RSS feeds today (I've been away until yesterday) and I've cleared a weeks backlog very quickly and hopefully not missed anything important. Of course, it is only because I use a product like SharpReader that can categorize stuff like this.

Posted by Paul at July 4, 2003 10:19 AM
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