The Complexity of Managing 212 RSS Feeds: A Blogger's Challenge
by Ted Tschopp
Navigating the Maze of Information: Tools, Workflows, and Overload
I am at a dangerous point in blogging. I have 212 different RSS feeds / blogs that I read. I know others manage a whole lot more but I’m not as good as they are. At one point back in 2000 or so I had only one feed that I subscribed to via the My Netscape Portal. It was the news feed from the site I use to run, at www.theonering.com (they no longer syndicate their news sadly). Over the last 7 years or so, the number of feeds I read has increased. It is now at the point where it takes an hour to read everything each day. I am now starting to run into a barrier of having too many feeds and I need to change something. I am running into several problems.
The first is that I am still looking for a taxonomy to manage all my feeds. As I scale up to this level, I am starting to run into the problem that I can’t exactly map everything into nice inboxes. The second problem that I’m now facing is that not everything that I save maps into nice outboxes either. The best tool to manage this so far has been FeedDemon. Their folder structure for feeds, watches and news bins makes sense, but I am at the breaking point as the GTDesque “workflow” that I have setup is needing to be reworked. The only way I can see reworking it is to make sub categories under each of my meta categories. To be honest, I think that FeedDemon will work just fine doing these things, but my overall workflow will need to change.
The second problem is that I am starting to run into the problem of never being able to be caught up on my reading. I have now gotten into the habit of scanning articles, but I have found that this misses items. There have been two solutions to this. I have started to subscribe to linkblogs. I wish more people would establish linkblogs and publish them. These linkblogs are great as they allow me to see if there is anything “important” that I missed on my trip through the other blogs. The other way I am managing this overload is that FeedDemon supports watches which is an automated way to collect information. I think that over the coming months I will be expanding these watches to be more detailed and specific. As this happens, I will need to subscribe to more generic feeds to feed these specific watches. This of course is a force feedback loop that will increase complexity.
My final problem is that I have tried many of the applications out there for reading feeds and I’m starting to approach the breaking point of these applications. I will keep posting over the coming months regarding how I am managing this, but I suspect that I will find a couple opportunities for improvement on the RSS reader side.