Today I opened a Google Reader account (or, more aptly put, added Google Reader to my ever-expanding array of Google products) and started adding RSS feeds. I came to realize that I have a lot of RSS feeds that I would like to keep up-to-date with. As a matter of fact, after four or five subscriptions I had to put my additions to GR (do you mind if I call you GR?) on the back-burner in order to write this blog entry and get back to work. I have a number to add when I get home, mostly personal – friends and colleagues who jumped on the bandwagon long before me (I’m still chasing after it – but I’m almost there – soon I can be added too!).
Information overload is something I definitely fight with on a regular basis. The coming days will be an experiment – will GR help me to make my life easier or cause me to run for cover? I know that I have a tendency to become irritated when things are left unattended – unread – unloved. I know full well that I will not read a barrage of RSS feeds, but will I be able to mark them as read knowing that they have gone unloved and without attention being paid to them? I think there’s a good chance if I know it’s saving me from having to go from website to website – something I mean to do currently, but cannot find the time to do.
The one thing, the most important, thing about RSS feeds is the ability to customize the information you receive. I would love to see a way for a part-time undergraduate Arts student in her final year who is also the President of the Rocketeering Club to have ONE place to go to read information on convocation, APUS event dates, course deadlines, and keep in touch with fellow rocket enthusiasts. We have come a long way with initiatives like Ulife and the Arts & Science Student e-news, but we still have a long way to go, Today’s online experience is all about customization and customization is a lot of work – but we’ll get there…
This is my reflection for the week:
The signs and symptoms
Re digital info:
- Having email accounts in hotmail, gmail, yahoo and the UofT one
- Having folders in my UofT email account with info from 2005
- Having accounts on Facebook, Linkedin, Hi5, WordPress, blogger, Flickr, Bloglines, del.icio.us, Tumblr, PB wiki, Youtube, etc.
- Thinking of getting accounts on Twitter and Wikipedia
- Using Google Reader for the RSS feeds
- Plus all the websites that I need to access for work or to survive (Online banking, Weather Network, Student Voice, Website, UofT Portal, Student Life Online, my alumni portal, etc.)
- Plus the Podcasts that automatically download in three different computers
- Those three different computers with their information. Plus my former computer at work which hasn’t been formatted. Oh, and there is an old, old IBM personal computer somewhere at home, also with info.
- Plus the music libraries in the 3 current computers and my ipod music library.
- Having an electronic calendar
Behaviours re digital info:
- I’m not very good at deleting info, getting rid of info or sometimes replying to emails (mostly personal emails). I’m also known for not responding to msn.
- I usually have lots of tabs and windows open at the same time.
- I don’t remember passwords and usernames because they are automatically saved in my computer.
Re paper info:
- Having lots of binders and folders in my office and at home. It looks very organized, but suddenly I can’t find information as I used to.
- Having books and magazines in different places
- Having various notebooks where I write different things
Behaviours re paper info:
- I keep everything… (Oh dear, I still have letters from elementary school friends)
- I fantasize with having a week off just to organize my electronic folders, binders, paper folders, books etc.
Ok, I don’t know if this is information overload or inefficient organization or both. There is a problem for sure!
The Cure (Any ideas are welcome!)
1. Before I get more and more feeds into google reader I’ll create folders, I think that categorizing always helps. I’ll also delete all blogs that are not that interesting.
2. Get rid of all those email folders that have information from ages ago.
3. Really take the time to reorganize information, both electronic and paper info.
4. Have guidelines that we can use before subscribing to a blog, a listserv, or before filing something. (I’m still thinking about these).
5. If I haven’t read blogs in a long time, mark them all as read and move on. Same with podcasts.
6. Not sure what else to do…
I am an RSS addict. Whenever I find a website I like, the first thing I do is to see if it has an RSS feed. That way, I don’t have to go back to the site every time to see if it’s changed – I can see the change right in my Google Reader.
In terms of information overload, yes, there’s a big risk. I currently subscribe to 275 feeds, and obviously I can’t read them all. There are probably 10 or so I read every day, both for work and personal interest, and the rest I just look at periodically. The reason I like the RSS reader is that it’s searchable. It’s a narrowed search – a regular Google search usually brings up the same sites over and over again at the top, especially Wikipedia. But I can check and see if any of my favourite sites have discussed a particular topic.
Someone earlier mentioned bookmarks, which I also find useful, though I think Firefox handles them better than Internet Explorer. I also use Delicious, which is a website that allows you to bring together your bookmarks, tag them, and share them with others.