David Weinberger at Reboot, June 2005 Today David Weinberger admits he can’t keep up with reading.
I would like to. I really would. I like it and I like you. But we’re now well past the point where any of us can keep up with all the blogs worth reading from the people worth keeping up with. Even with an aggregator. I just can’t do it any more.
The truth is, I probably haven’t read your blog in weeks. Months maybe. And I don’t expect you to have read mine.

Well, I don’t read all of his and your stuff either. Don’t stop writing however! Because I do value the conversation I feel we are continuously involved in, even if that sounds silly when both of us don’t read the other’s half of the conversation.
As I said before in How do you use RSS?, I don’t read everything that ends up in my feed reader. I skim all postings unsorted to get a general feeling of what’s up in ‘my neighbourhood’ of the blogosphere, and some other parts of ‘town’ as well. I look for patterns, for what we all are talking about. If something is important to a number of you, enough to write about it, than it might be important for me too. That is when I might start reading individual postings, to see if it is relevant to me now.
I also have a list of questions and points that are already relevant to me. That is the stuff I write about, and I also read all individual postings that seem to be relevant to that. I don’t feel guilty about that, as David seems to have done.
It is the way things work. First you get a feeling for what is up. You contribute what is relevant to you and on your mind in the here and now. And then engage those in direct conversation that seem to hold interesting views on the stuff that is already on your mind, and the stuff that they brought to the table and attracted your attention. Sounds familiar doesn’t it?
It is what we do meeting on town squares, in the pubs, the salons, at parties, at the family dining table. It is what happens in communities of people. And the 250 people whose thoughts are in my feed-reader are my social community in much the same way. I don’t feel guilty when I skip a pub visit (although I used to do 😉 ). I am sure that the party was great, and the conversation excellent. But it is not about the conversations I miss out on. It is about the value we create in the conversations we do have, and making the most of that. That is what counts.
So when you come up to me and ask if I have read your posting xyz, the most likely answer you’ll get is “no, but I remember seeing a few items about that pass by” or you will get a real genuine “yes”. Chances are then that I’ve already linked or bookmarked it, commented on it, written about it, e-mailed or skyped you, or referenced it face to face.
(picture by macsteve)

2 reactions on “RSS Reading Strategy Revisited

  1. I currently have subscribed to almost 250 feeds, but certainly don’t read all of it. It’s just like a newspaper: usually I skim the headlines and pick out the interesting items, and when I don’t have the time for that I only read the front page.
    The trick is to optimize this process, so you have the most important information on your front page (I use a folder with some important feeds) and to have a high percentage of interesting headlines.

  2. metaphors – models – analogues
    Take, say, Wimbledon Championship 2005.
    Do you watch every match / have you got the time or inclinaion to ?
    Do you watch evey point of every match? And, do you need to in order to (a) appreciate the match (b) get an idea of what each player is like?

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