I’ve been wondering of late what aggregated content will do to reading habits, and wouldn’t you know Lila Efimova is thinking along the same lines and posting about it. I’m up to 75 sites that I would classify as education and Web logs related, and I’m adding one or two a week it seems. Add to that about another 25 news and “good reading” sites, and I’m pulling in over 100 Web logs a day. That means that my little Bloglines notifier is pretty much constantly dinging away, and it also means that I need to spend about an hour or more each day scanning what’s in there, clicking through to read the most relevant looking stuff in detail, and commenting either here or on someone else’s site. This process has taught me a couple of things, namely how important post titles are, and how key it is to clearly phrase the gist of a post early on. I also find that I look for certain people’s posts first, and then scan the others more briefly. I guess there is a hierarchy to the bloggers I read. It’s also made the bookmarking feature of Bloglines a godsend (though I’m still waiting for a click the checkbox way of deleting those bookmarks when I’m done with them…)
I think Lila is right that there may be some cost involved in doing this. She asks “What if once I have more than X weblogs in my news aggregator they become content, news bits and not personal voices any more?” It’s a good question, because that personal voice is important on some level. It’s what connects the ideas that that person develops through his or her Web log. And I know that I miss good stuff because of the number of posts I scan. If this is the future of information gathering, we have some more skills we’re going to have to learn and teach.
The other piece of this for me is when do I give up on a source. Does anyone else find it difficult to delete someone’s feed? I know there are a couple of people on my list that haven’t posted for quite a while yet there stuff was so relevant when they were posting that I’m hesitant to drop them for fear I’ll miss out if they start up again. That’s the dark side of aggregation for info junkies like me…it’s really hard to say no.