blogging / career talk / General Media / industry news

Information overload: RSS reader edition

UPDATE: via Jason Kottke (and my RSS reader) this related, lengthy piece from journalist Brian Lam, whose site I’ve never read.

Last week, my intro to multimedia classes discussed RSS feeds, and why they were a good thing. I love RSS feeds for keeping up to date on matters at the intersection of technology, journalism and college media. A lot of people have started using Twitter as an alternative to RSS readers, but I don’t find that a good thing, necessarily. The real problem for me is the amount of information that come through the RSS reader in a day. I was amazed at how much content some of the blogs I follow was pumping out in a day, so I decided to try an experiment. I “bankrupted” my Google Reader yesterday (Monday, Jan. 30, 2012) at 4 p.m. Central Standard Time. There were no unread items.

It’s now 2:30 CST on Tuesday, and I just went in to see how many items were in the unread RSS inbox. As you can see, there are 276 unread items. And I don’t follow any traditional media outlets (NYT, Washington Post, etc.).

The main contributors to this RSS glut?

Five sites, 170 new items in less than 24 hours!

Now, granted there’s probably a lot of good information in some of those blog posts, but who can keep up? I’m sure most people don’t read all these firehoses of niche information, preferring to focus on one or two. But if you’re trying to stay up-to-date on the latest happenings in a certain area, it’s not always an option.
It’s no wonder one of the more recent tech terms to become a buzzword is information overload.

I’m sure someone has a workable situation for this conundrum. I think one of the things we’ve created with the fast pace of the Internet is the need for constant content, some of which is little more than a picture and a blurb from another blog or a press release. And that’s not helping us get quality information, much less act upon the information we’re getting.

This isn’t specifically a college-media-related issue. But as journalists of the future, one of our college students’ key functions will still be to serve as trusted curators or information sherpas for people who don’t have time to follow all this content. And that means they will have to find strategies and tools to go where the information is and discover what’s important without having to spend hours in front of a screen sifting through stories.

Enhanced by Zemanta