Mar 29, 2005

the brutal nature of aggregation

For about one year now I've been slowly building up my feeds in Bloglines. I hit about 350 feeds about 2 weeks ago when I slowly realized I was hitting a content threshold. It was becoming increasingly difficult to keep up with the content. A little housecleaning was in order. My approach was simply to place blogs that posted over the next two weeks into a category folder. At that point I wasn't categorizing anything. At the end of that two weeks I would kill any feed not in a folder unless there was some compelling rationale to keep it. This whittled things down to about 300 feeds but it didn't do much to my content flow because these were low-posting feeds.

I must admit this culling made me a little bloodthirsty. I've slowly whittled away another 50 feeds just on the basis of them being poor blogs. Before this, lack of quality didn't necessarily count for much. As soon as I hit a content threshold though, poor blogs became a huge tax on my day. While there were some obvious fringey blogs that weren't interesting, I was quite surprised at some of the feeds I ended up killing. got nailed this week when I realized as soon as he started to ask for money his blog is incredibly boring. It goes back to what I said before - if you don't write for yourself your blog will suck. Well his officially sucks. Gone.

Boingboing got nailed last week. Cory Doctorow has just become too much of a tin-foil hat for my tastes. Data and reason seem to have just vanished from his posts in the last few months. While I agree with many of his posts I don't need to listen to someone who agrees with me to feel good about myself. News alert - he's not the deep thinker most people think he is. Gone.

Slashdot has just become too silly. The comments were entertaining but it took way to long to read those and they don't slide into the RSS feeds so I'm taking a double hit there. Gone.

Lifehacker, Wonkette, Gawker, Kotaku, Screenhead (in a nutshell Gawker Media). Most of these are well written but the expertise is just horrible. It seems like they rounded up a bunch of people from college who took a lot of English courses and said "write". Denton has spread himself too thin. Gone.

The other thing that was naggging me is how most of the above feeds seemed to do a lot of cross-linking of each other's stories. It just became a lot of regurgitation and backslapping ("check out so and sos excellent writeup of..."). Screw you, the write up sucks.

The benefit I've gained by cutting off feeds is that I'm a little more apt to take a risk with some feeds. I never would have subscribed to blogs like Forksplit (great funny writing, black black humor) before but I'm glad I did. I just make sure I stick them in a temp category before keeping them as permanents. The net result is the most of my favorite feeds now are from blogs with relatively low subscription rates. It's almost like the babies of blogging grew up and morphed into old stream media. They are all writing from a standpoint of acquiring and retaining an audience so they'll click on their AdSense feeds. Something I doubt someone like Forksplit gives a shit about. In a word - boring. Gone.

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