Kay lives here

working with the web

Information Overload?

I was just reading an article from SitePoint (via their RSS feed, ironically) about maximising your social media time. I thought this little snippet was kinda funny:

Be Picky: I subscribe to a lot of feeds (well over 60), but I regularly review what I have coming in, and I’m ready to unsubscribe when I lose interest.

No matter which way I think about it, “well over 60” is not “a lot of feeds”. I thought I’d take a peek into my Google Reader stats:

From your 450 subscriptions, over the last 30 days you read 14,149 items, starred 278 items, shared 14 items, and emailed 0 items.

Hmmm. I don’t even think of 450 feeds as a lot. Some of them are aggregated, but on the other hand some of them are status feeds (Campaign Monitor, Google Alerts, Facebook etc). I know people who subscribe to far more.

Using Google Reader, I’m able to skim through all the items and flag what I want to read – and from the stats above, 278 items flagged out of 14,149 is 1.9% – and it doesn’t take more than about half an hour. It’s one of my early morning tasks and it’s something I enjoy a lot.

Of course, I have a massive backlog of flagged items that I want to read in more depth, but I like to think I’m saving them for rainy afternoons or plane trips or something.

The content of those feeds is massively varied – from tech blogs, comic strips, food blogs and photographers to music feeds (lots of music feeds) and a surprising number of non-geek blogs.

What about you? What’s in your feed reader?


  1. I’m with the author of the SitePoint article. I’m only subscribed to 44 feeds, and I follow 64 people on Twitter (much lower than most people I know). I think the difference between me and you is that I read everything to which I subscribe. If I’m getting too much noise from someone, I unsubscribe or stop following them. Basically, everything must have very high value. On a busy day, my time is precious, so I have a selection of important sources that I know will be worth my efforts.

    Note however that I do have a couple blog and news aggregators in my bookmarks that I check out every day too. I selectively pick interesting tidbits from those, and I certainly wouldn’t read everything I find there. On the busy days, I can skip these without losing much value.

  2. I used to be uber-junkie subscribing to a ton of feeds and plowing through them every day. My morning routine was wake up, read feeds, eat lunch, repeat.

    Now it’s just too tough. I use http://techmeme.com for all of my major tech news. I have groups and searches for Adobe products and community members and I find that I get most of the interesting news/commentary from that.

    I sadly haven’t touched my feeds in a long time. And I still feel guilty. :(


  3. I’m a speed-reader, so it’s really easy for me to skim over when I need to do so. Once in a while I do a mass “set status to read”. I’ve been using Net News Wire, but since they’ve really screwed up the move to the new version (company decided to shut down their Newsgator server and forced the upgrade earlier than anticipated, which then led to date slippage and being kept in the dark as to what was going on with the NNW beta) . . .

  4. I have 450 feeds too, but like you I use the ‘river or news’ approach, letting the headlines flow through quickly and picking out items worth bookmarking for later. I can’t imagine reading every single item, and most feeds have some good and some not so good posts. I’m ruthless about unsubscribing when the overall quality or relevance drops.