Selective Reading

There is no lack of good material to read out there, blogs, forums, news, reviews, etc… I frequently find myself subscribing to too many sources of information, usually because I came across a good article in it. Every so often, usually when my to-read pile looks like it is out of control, I will cull the lists. Recently I took a hard look at all the blogs I was tracking and decided to cull the list.

I removed the feeds that had not posted in a while, and the feeds that had not posted anything interesting for me to read in a while. There were also a number of overlapping feeds, culled those too. The Search Engine Journal recently had a good article on reducing feed reading.

But this got me thinking about a couple of issues:

First is the issue that most of what is out there is not that relevant to me (this is the 90%/10% rule, 10% of what is out there is relevant to me). While there are lots and lots of feeds out there (70+ million but current counts), the vast majority of them are not relevant to me. It is still a chore to find good feeds which are relevant to me. I usually come across them by word of mouth from colleagues, or one of the feeds I am reading refers me to other feeds. But we should be able to automate this process, good content should find me, once I have defined what good content is.

Second is the issue of filtering the content is that is generated by my selected feeds (which I may be reading or not.) I would really like to be able to filter a selected batch of feeds using different methods such as topic, taxonomy, tags, clusters, terms, etc… For example, I tried to use the Google Reader to read my feeds, but I was frustrated by the inability to search against a selection of feeds from my current subscriptions. I would like to be able to search the past content of feeds I subscribe to, as well as setting new searches on feeds which I am not read but want to track in case something interesting appears.

I am not quite sure where this is going, but it strikes me that there are some gaps in our information discovery and information management tools, in spite of the sophistication of what is currently available to us.

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