For those of you who don’t know, I trip on Google Reader.
Multiple reasons. To start with, there were a lot of things I missed out on by virtue of ignorance, while at NITK. So I subscribe left right and center to anything that aggregates together information about opportunities. And then there was this time when I wanted to improve my domain knowledge on things like Knowledge Discovery and Text Mining and Machine Learning and Data Mining and Image Processing and Software Engineering and… you get the picture, so I subscribed indiscriminately to a lot of blogs that write extensively on these topics. There was also a time during the holidays when I stumbled on a gazillion blogs, found them all wonderful, and subscribed to them all. And I feel I don’t follow movies and music fervently enough, so there are some entertainment blogs that keep me informed of things in that arena. There was a time during my professional life when I would reach office absurdly early, and there began my subscribing to quizzing blogs, so that I could get my daily dose of trivia before I began work, or during my lunch break. And political blogs. What would life be without them. There are also photoblogs and photography blogs which I subscribed to in an initial enthu, and starmark various posts to implement them whenever I can. Then there are those zillion-feeds-a-day blogs like Freakonomics or MentalFloss.
And initially, the Recommended Feeds section was a huuuuge hit with me. It gave me access to so many good feeds I might have otherwise skipped.
And shared items. Some or the other person who I follow is always jobless. And finds time to discover a million new blogs and share all the (mostly good) things they find there.
I never felt the need to prune my reading list over the past year. I had atleast an hour-long commute to work every day and found that catching up on my feeds from my mobile was the best way to spend that hour. I routinely found myself craving for more, during those times in traffic jams.
But now, I don’t obsessively compulsively refresh my Reader every few minutes… there is hardly any time for that. Right now. I find it quite a burden to bring my Unread count to zero. And the number of feeds that pile up if I don’t log in for a day or two is really, really scary. It’s only in three figures, though.
I don’t particularly like marking things as Read. Especially because the things I subscribe to are interesting, worthy of respect, even.
“Unsubscribe. Easy!”, you might say. No, it is not that easy. Now I mightn’t have time to read all that I ask for, but there will definitely come a time, say winter break, or some point in time, I KNOW, when I’ll look woefully at my empty account and wonder what used to take so much of my time. It has happened in the past.
And I did try unsubscribing from some feeds. But most of those were feeds from blogs whose owners had long quit updating, feeds from blogs of events which happened rather long back, and feeds which I generally do not find very useful.
But there’s this seemingly irrational reasoning in my head that I should read feed X because it’s good for me, it’ll help me grow as a person. And that makes me avoid unsubscribing based on like/don’t like or goodWriting/badWriting.
So what do I want? An application that magically transfers all the information data I subscribe to and transmits it to my head. While I’m sleeping.
More (or less) realisitically, I just want some sort of a recommender system that tells me which of the two-hundred unread feeds right now do I absolutely have to read, and which ones I can safely mark as hell.Or atleast some sort of a ranking system.
And I came across this article which voiced all the concerns I had! (Through Reader, of course 🙂 ). Great, people are already on the job.
Till Google listens to that and comes up with some system like that, or until someone attempts to come up with such a system, I’m stuck with 135 feeds most of which post regularly. So what do I do?
Logik suggested crowdsourcing once. I’ll-share-good-stuff-from-TechCrunch-you-share-from-mentalFloss-and-greatBong. But is it really reliable? And how do we evolve some similar system? Any thoughts?
And I really don’t want to trim down this part of my life. Fact remains that these nice reads do definitely keep me on my toes, keep me informed, give me good fodder for conversation, are useful in many ways…. and heck, it’s convenient. It’s also nice to have something good to fall back on when you don’t have anything else to do. All I ask is for more convenience.
PS: There might be some to whom my concerns might seem alien. “You’re a computer addict”, they might say. Heck, do I call you an ‘air addict’ or ‘water addict’, or… ‘rice addict’…. or ‘Sunday Mass addict’? If I’m on my laptop the whole day, it doesn’t mean I’m a computer ‘addict’. While I’m logged on, I’m also networking, keeping in touch with friends, reading novels, going through tutorials, looking up recipes, watching movies, making jokes, reading the news. I don’t ask you “Why are you alwaaaaaayyys standing up or sitting down?”, do I?
And no, I don’t wear glasses.