Reducing Infinites, a status update

It’s been about 11 months since I started my cleaning experiment to try to reduce the “get to the end of the feed” mentality when consuming content. I figured it was time for an update.

In our previous adventure, my content was coming mostly through my RSS reader, some through my Google+ account, and that was pretty much it. I’d overloaded on feeds, and ended up with a daunting “1000+ unread” nearly every time I’d opened my RSS reader. I trimmed this down by reducing my inputs to just the feeds that I actually thought were interesting and junking everything else. This was especially true whenever I found a multiplicity of cross-posts (aggregators always assume that you only subscribe to their feed, so of course they’ll repost a small variation on the same story that can be found in fifteen the places on the internet).

Some creep back has been inevitable, but the way that it’s occurred is a little surprising.

My RSS feed now looks like this:

  • Blogs
    • Celestial Waste of Bandwidth (Andy Ihnatko’s blog). Relatively low frequency, but I enjoy his writing.
    • The Loop (Jim Dalrymple and Dave Mark). If you don’t know this writing, you’re not a Mac person. Mac and tech news as well as high frequency tech content aggregator.
    • Daring Fireball (John Gruber’s blog). See above. One of the more interesting blogs if for no other reason than he’s completely up front of about sponsorship on his blog (and the people who end up buying adds on his blog end up being things that I may end up using).
  • Science Content and Aggregators (no individual links for these). I find that these feeds don’t have huge amounts of overlap, and where they do, the reporting is usually in depth enough that I don’t care.
    • Ars: Scientific Method (mostly an aggregator)
    • NASA Breaking News
    • National Geographic News
    • Nature News
    • New Scientist
    • JPL News
    • The Planetary Society Blog
    • Scientific American
    • Universe Today
  • Other
    • Ars Technica (tech news aggregator)
    • Deadspin (aggregator, but also has great sports content)
    • FiveThirtyEight
    • Lifehacker
    • Rock, Paper, Shotgun (gaming)

The place where interesting creep has come in is actually through other media. I argued with myself (rightly so), that I would end up being exposed to news media through other sources (I have the New York Times app on my phone, I check the BBC website during the day, etc). It turns out that when I hear something and I think “Okay, I want to find out what happened”, I end up clicking over to my News app.

My News feed draws from:

  • The New York Times
  • The Washington Post
  • The New Yorker
  • NPR News
  • Wired
  • BussFeed News

I’ve consciously tried to keep my RSS feeds (blogs, science, tech, sports) separate from my News feeds (actual news).

The third leg has actually ended up being my Facebook feed. This has more-or-less replaced my Google+ feed for finding awesome astronomy pictures to share. The major content providers now have pages for both, and my friends and family use Facebook far more than they use Google+. I still think Google+ is a more enjoyable interface and I still can’t figure out how to make Facebook show me what I want to see, but Facebook is simply more ubiquitous.

I’ve almost completely disengaged from Google+ and I think it’ll stay that way. The system (okay, that’s too strong a term…maybe “completely disorganized chaos that is how I consume content”) that I’ve got above keeps a firewall between different interests (I can open my RSS feed to peak at Science news without getting too far down the rabbit hole of World News, for example). My Google+ feed turned into a be-all, end-all. I could go back and clean it up, but I’m not sure that it’s worth the effort.

I’ve also slowly started to turn on the spigot of Twitter again. I’m keeping  my follower count small and I’m mainly trying to follow people that don’t seem to have a Facebook presence. Oddly enough, most of these people are people that I also follow on Google+. So we’ll see how that goes. I have a feeling that, like Google+, Twitter will end up be mostly an out-going information stream instead of an incoming one.


Top level photo credit: newsstand via photopin (license)

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