Thursday, March 23, 2006

Feed readers and diminishing returns

Yahoo's Jeremy Zawodny is one of many early adopter geeks now feeling overloaded by their RSS reader. Jeremy says:
I'd simply read [feeds] until I was done reading. I had to make sure all those folders and feeds were un-bolded before I was "done."

And every once in a while, the periodic update would run before I finished, and I'd end up with even more work to do. The horror!

[I] realized that it's a classic example of diminishing returns. Since I almost always read that stuff in my own "priority order" I get the most bang for my time in the first 15 minutes or so.

Someday someone will pull all this ranking, customization, personalization, recommendation, and other magic technology together and give me a great reason to throw out my RSS Aggregator once at for all.
This reminds me of what I said back in Dec 2004 during the early days of Findory:
The problem with current web feed readers is that they don't solve the information overload problem.

Sure, I can pick and choose which RSS feeds I subscribe to. But, once you have tens of subscribed feeds, reading them becomes this cumbersome process. Click on a feed, skim the articles. Anything interesting in that one? No. Click, skim. Click, skim. Click, skim. Ugh.

Current RSS readers merely reformat XML for display. That isn't enough. They need to filter and prioritize. Show me what matters. Help me find what I need.
See also my earlier post, "A relevance rank for news and weblogs".


Mark Brown said...

I don't Know Greg. On RSS I'm a trailing edge adopter, and only use the active bookmark feature in Firefox. But it seems to work Real well for me, despite its total simplicity

Anonymous said...

What I find interesting is that once I started using a feed reader I noticed what a small percentage of posts I actually read from sites like slashdot and boingboing. And every post from those two sites I did find interesting were commented on at blogs for which I read the majority of the posts. That said, I think just clicking delete a couple times is a huge win against "diminishing returns"

Granted, it would be very sweet if my feed reader could realize similar topics across my various tech feeds and just aggregate it a la google news.