That’s right – Too Much Information = No Time. A few of us Social Media folks were recently discussing how we’re past the phase where we read lots of news feeds. With easy-aggregation tools like Google Reader, there’s a tendency to oversubscribe to too many news websites and blogs. We end up skimming or not reading anything at all.
Now, I just take a leaf from another of Google’s famous lines, “I’m feeling lucky”, whip open my Google Reader and read whichever feeds appear on my screen first. I click randomly on other folders, read a few more articles, then close my window.
Of course, there are collective keyword feeds I subscribe to for work. Those I still read. It’s my professional prerogative. But there is no regular blog that I read anymore. It’s nothing personal. It’s because reading a whole lot of feeds is not going to change my life. Timothy Ferriss, your wise words speak to me even as I continue reading your book. Maybe I too should only read feeds at a certain time of the day, and only selected ones.
Just as I was harbouring these thoughts, Ben wrote of the same thing too. I totally, totally agree with him on this. I can’t remember much of what I read, and I can’t piece things together. I can spend the whole day attending meetings and replying to emails without doing work that would really make an impact. It is so easy to fall into this trap. Likewise with feeds.
It’s like starting out with a few good friends. As you grow more confident, you expand your social network and suddenly ending up with a gazillion MySpace strangers whose lives you now feel obliged to keep track of. There’s even a feeling of guilt when you don’t read them. The same feeling as a child when you had too much food on your plate, really didn’t feel like eating it, but felt like taking a few more mouthfuls so as not to be wasteful. Like the children we once were, we’ve got too much feed.
I subscribe to over 650 feeds and it is really time to cull them.
Update: It appears that well-known bloggers are also dropping out of social networks because they can’t keep up with them. I’m seeing a trend here.


  1. Benjamin Koe

    Thanks for the link back Van. This must be the next step in the Web 2.0 evolution; like an inbetween stage where things are a little out of control waiting for new innovation to make things work better. So what do we do now? Boycott information? =P

  2. brian

    Woww.. that really voiced my sentiments -) there’s really a lot of information out there. too much? maybe it’s better than too little at this point in time i guess. but i agree, seiving thru an ocean of information takes time, and even with my RSS subscriptions (I limited myself to 10), i still feel like i might have cheapened myself by not subscribing to more.
    but we only have one pair of eyes, and i think we need to make a stand as to just how much we can handle. haha.. ‘specially when all this information is essentially free, although we pay for it with our time.
    surely there must be a more effective way of monitoring all this?

  3. vantan

    It seems like the next generation of apps (Web 2.5?) have to help us make sense of all this.
    I envision the need for a hyperintelligent system that can review all blog posts and put them on a matrix to highlight the Blogosphere’s opinions on various topics. Something that Google News may be able to build on. It can list all the top bloggers who are for or against an issue, and then we can choose what we want to read from there.
    In terms of globalisation, it’s like outsourcing the reading of feeds. We still do the critical thinking, but all the necessary info’s laid out for us already. Beyond an oversubscribed buffet (which is what we have right now), we get a dietitian telling us which items on the platter are worth consuming.
    What do you think?

  4. Walter

    Thanks for blogging this Van.
    Like I have shared many times with Ivan and some of our other group of friends, you need to spend more time with the real life family and friends that you meet in First Life. There is only this much time in a day, and one needs to prioritise between the million and one pressing concerns at work, play, and offline. I have certainly cut down on my online activities and have also blogged a lot less frequently lately. Just too many exciting things happening in the real world for me, and this includes helping my dear son Ethan grow up. Nothing compares to that!

  5. BL

    The problem at hand is the management of the overload of information. A hard and fast rule for myself is to have 50-80 feeds which I look at my own reading patterns through the Google Reader Trends. If I see that I keep skipping some blogs too quickly, I will unsubscribe from them. It helps to constantly refresh and revitalize my readings.
    Actually, the cultural mindset is going to be important. Given so much information, how are people going to access and assimilate them quickly? My theory is that more will be needed to educate people in order to avoid the trap of misinformation.

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