Scott's Weblog The weblog of an IT pro specializing in virtualization, networking, open source, and cloud computing

Information Overload

My customers rely on me to have the information they need. As a result, I have to stay on top of lots of information: new product releases, security patches, mergers, product interoperability—and that’s just the beginning. I’m trying to use technology to help with the information overload, but is it really helping?

Let’s take RSS, for example. I currently subscribe to 25 different feeds from a variety of news sources and weblogs. I use a filing system in my newsreader (here’s a shameless plug for PulpFiction) so that articles from the various feeds get placed into “Articles to Read”, “Articles to E-Mail”, etc. I’m pretty good about trying to keep the Inbox in PulpFiction empty, but now I’ve got 35 articles in my “Articles to Read” folder and 8 links to follow from a del.icio.us feed (I have a person in my office who researches stuff on the Internet for me, adds what she finds to her del.icio.us bookmark list, then feeds it to me via RSS).

And that’s just RSS. What about e-mail? I’m subscribed to so many newsletters and automatic notification services that I get upwards of a dozen or more messages every day. Since I don’t have time to read all of these, I forward them to a newsgroup hosted on an internal server so that I can go back and review them later.

And speaking of newsgroups, how in the world do I have time to keep up with a dozen or so core newsgroups? My Usenet reader, Unison (another shameless plug), doesn’t yet support offline reading, so I have to read everything online.

Between newsgroups, e-mail, RSS, and “ordinary” web sites, I’m getting so much information I can’t adequately process it all. And I can’t devote more time to it, because then what about my family? Staying informed is important, but it’s my role as a father that is most important (easy to say, hard to practice!).

So what about all of you? What tricks, techniques, tips do you have for coping with all the information being force-fed into our brains?

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