Avoiding Information Overload

20 Jan
2007

The amount of information whirring around is manic. Furthermore, information is agnostic in value – it can be useful, not useful, it can be true, it can be false, and it can be a combination of all four.

I try to keep my RSS feed list as small as possible. The total number of feeds I am subscribed to right now is 70. Most of them are work-related, and a few are just plain interesting/thought-provoking (eg indexed and PostSecret).

My rule of being subscribed to a feed is simple. Five (formerly six) possible reasons:

  1. You provide useful information. If you post four times in a row and none of the posts interest me – axed. I don’t have time for you.
  2. My competition. It is smart business to know what they are upto.
  3. My (our) own blogs. It is important to see what your readers are seeing.
  4. My employee’s blogs. I encourage my employees to keep personal blogs, and it is good to know what is on their mind.
  5. Others. These include the before-mentioned indexed and PostSecret.
  6. Comments. Or I did. Not anymore – read on. I am still subscribed to this blog’s comment feed.

Even more important than keeping track of blogs is keeping track of comments. When you post a comment, knowing what follows is very important. Blogs that do not allow comments suck (only one I subscribe to that doesn’t allow comments is Seth’s Blog). Comments are where the real meat of information is, and skipping over that can be foolhardy (and maybe why people have 1000+ feeds subscribed to). To keep track of comments, I use Commentful (top secret notice: we have acquired the site and will be integrated it with Blog Flux soon). Any time I find a blog/forum post I want to track (even if I don’t cinnent), I add it to Commentful. After that it notifies me with a nice little green light in my FF statusbar. No need to visit each page or leave them open in a tab (which is what I used to) or subscribe to the entire comments feed. I instantly know what is going on and when.

The last thing is – email. I actually keep 5 primary emails (through Thunderbird). All the rest of the sites then forward to my one ‘collector’ email or are answered by an employee. Thunderbird Notify keeps my email a click-away in the taskbar, and I have it set to check every 60 minutes. Anything less than 60 minutes becomes distracting. This way I also answer all my emails as I get them.

Any other ways readers here deal with all the information out there?

9 Responses to Avoiding Information Overload

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DG

January 20th, 2007 at 6:14 pm

I’m trying out Commentful now. Worked quite well on the first comment I tracked. I’d really love that application if I could add a comment URL with a click rather than cut and paste. Maybe a browser plugin at the top as well as the bottom of the browser?

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DG

January 20th, 2007 at 6:30 pm

Well never mind. Just saw the cool right click feature with the pop-up. Guess I should RTFM eh? ; )

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Ahmed

January 20th, 2007 at 6:35 pm

That would help – but the instructions are a bit confusing :)

We are going to overhaul it a bit – it needs to be simplified (eg everything will default to 30 days, the addition process will be a lot more seamless).

It also has a bookmarklet (which will go on the top of course) if you want to use that instead of the FF-plugin.

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Tim L. Walker

January 31st, 2007 at 5:06 pm

Love it… is the 200 max going to change? I would even consider paying a little extra to go over that limit. ;)

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Ahmed

January 31st, 2007 at 5:42 pm

Sorry – what 200 max? :)

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Tim L. Walker

January 31st, 2007 at 5:56 pm

Sorry, should have been more specific… was referring to Commentful:

“How many items can I track at a time?
You can track a maximum of 200 items at a time”

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Ahmed

January 31st, 2007 at 5:58 pm

Oh right sorry – outdated FAQ (and slightly oudated version there).

When we move it to BlogFlux.com it won’t have those restrictions.

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Tim L. Walker

January 31st, 2007 at 10:49 pm

Cool… looking forward to that. ;)

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