Too Much Information: A More Productive Model than Getting Info via the Fire-hose that is RSS

It may just be nostalgia, but when I think about how I stay informed I always go back to memories of my dad reading the LA Times in the morning and watching TV news in the evening and that being enough. Granted, it is kind of part of my job to stay on top of a large host of information but it seems like I just can’t quite seem to get a meaningful handle on this. There has to be a more productive way of staying informed that doesn’t require trying to drink from the fire-hose that is RSS based feeds.

On my iPhone I’ve subscribed to 18 audio podcasts and on my iPad I have 34 video podcasts subscriptions (using the Downcast app). Three audio podcasts and five of the video podcasts are daily, three of the video podcasts are two times a week and the rest, 41 podcasts, are weekly. In my RSS reader I’m subscribed to 86 feeds with anywhere between 200 to 1500 articles waiting in my queue (depending on how frequently I scan the lists). In my two active Twitter accounts I’m following 551 persons in one account and 146 in the other averaging about 200 tweets to read whenever I check in. I have sixteen news apps on my iPad, subscribed to one magazine in Newsstand and five magazines using Zinio. And any of the seven TWiT video podcasts that I regularly watch are available live when recorded or 24/7 on-demand. Yeah, I don’t have a life.

Like my dad, I could just pick a few sources to go directly to for my info. All the mainstream sources have their own apps: ABC news, the BBC, CNN, PBS, NPR, LA Times, New York Times. Hell, even the Orlando Sentinel has an app. But, wasn’t it the promise of this information age, that I don’t have to depend on a curated version of the news but can get my news from sources much closer to the story. In fact, when I do skim through the Sentinel most of the local info is police blotter stuff and all the rest are wire stories that I could probably get much more in-depth coverage from where-ever the story originated from. I mean, I would only try to get my tech news from CNN if i wanted to see the mainstream media spin on a tech story. Thus the 52 podcasts, 86 RSS feeds and hundreds of twitter sources, resulting in many hundreds of news items per 24-hour period. It does seem wise to prune the stream back.

One thought I’ve had is, because many of the news items are just quoting or getting their information from other sources, I’d love it if I could enter all of the sources that I want my news stream to come from, but only view news items as close as possible to the original post. I’m guessing that that alone would reduce the number of articles skimmed by easily one-third. I don’ t know if that app or service exists (I would most definitely want it on my iPad, my news viewing platform of choice). Any suggestions would be most welcomed because I’m tired of the fire-hose experience.