I remember in 2001 when I first heard about RSS. Back then, we still called them weblogs, and there were so few blogs that it was news when a new one started. For example, I distinctly remember reading excitedly about a promising new VC blogger named Jeff Nolan from SAP Ventures.
At first, I just visited selected blogs regularly, checking for updates like I did on my sports websites. Then I learned about RSS and started following blogs using Bloglines.
For years, my RSS reader was my most important source of information. But gradually, I’ve found it’s getting displaced. Not by Twitter, as many people have argued, but by group and personal filtering systems.
In some ways, it’s back to the future–once again, I fond myself checking just a few sites and services. But this time, it’s due to a surplus of content, rather than a paucity. Both my RSS reader, Twitter feed, and Facebook feed are overwhelming. Reading every item would literally be a full-time job. Instead, I find myself dipping into the stream on an occasional basis.
Here are my information consumption habits:
- RSS feed of close friends (to keep up with their thoughts and activities)
- @mentions on Twitter (to see who’s reacting to my tweets)
- Techmeme (to see what everyone is talking about)
- Hacker News Daily (to see what young technical entrepreneurs are talking about)
- Summify/My6sense (personalized feed filters to tell me what my network is talking about)
- Twitter (dropping in to see what’s shaking, much like cruising a neighborhood and checking for parties)
- Facebook (ambient awareness of what my casual friends and acquaintances are doing)
What’s interesting to me is the balance between personalized and general. The personalized news sources help me maintain relationships and keep me informed about my little world; the general news sources help me discover new insights and information sources.
Perhaps the is the natural long-term balance; more personalized than the old pre-Internet mainstream media, but with a core of commonly read information to help set the agenda.