Overload is More Than Just Quantity

Drinking from a hoseAs I keep reading more and more posts from overloaded bloggers, I’ve started thinking a bit more about what exactly the term overload means. Everyone seems to have a sense of feeling overwhelmed in common and complains that there are times when they can’t keep up with blogs via RSS.One big part of this is just the sheer quantity of blogs. Each blog you read leads you to other blogs. And those lead to other blogs. It never ends. Some of those make their way into your feed reader. And so the number of feeds you subscribe to keeps growing. The good news is that right now it feels different than having 500 cable TV stations with nothing on.

A different part of this is the quantity of posts on that blog. Some blogs are hardly ever updated. Others are updated weekly or daily. Complicating this are those blogs that have multiple authors. So the total number of blog posts can be much larger than a single author blog.

While the total number of posts matters, the frequency and regularity of updates do too. Ten posts in ten days is somehow different than ten posts in one day. It’s the “real-time” nature of the blogosphere. There’s an immediacy to an RSS update. It’s almost as though you can feel the posts growing stale in your queue of unread articles. Maybe it’s the knowledge that other people are commenting on the post. That a conversation is taking place that you haven’t yet joined.In the blogosphere, time matters.  The problem of overload is bad enough when you look at the producing end. It gets worse when something happens on the consuming side. Many people can manage to keep up with their feed reader as long as they are diligent at it. Just make sure to read a little every few hours, or every day. Count on the fact that most bloggers tend not to write as much on the weekend, so maybe then you’ll catch back up.

Just don’t go on vacation without your iPhone or your laptop. Any slowdown in your regular pattern of reading feeds can cause an immediate pileup in your feedreader. It’s bad enough that some bloggers are even declaring RSS bankruptcy.

To me, this is all about velocity. A combination of both quantity and time. Too many updates each day. Or the same amount of updates as any week, but no time to read them. Or worse… a busy news week just as you come down with the flu.

I see the potential of a tool like a Bscope or a Bspace in managing that changing velocity. Giving an overwhelmed consumer an alternative to just marking thousands of articles as “read” in their feed reader. A chance, instead, to at least find the most interesting, relevant or important conversations in the blogosphere. And to join in those few before trying to go back to drinking from that continuous firehose we lovingly call the blogosphere.

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