Skimming the web

The way I see it, there are three stages to web browsing:

  1. The web is new. You visit the blogs of friends and colleagues every day. You use Gmail or Yahoo mail and check in on your favourite sites a few times a day.
  2. It quickly becomes tiring visiting websites every day that may not have any new content. You discover feed readers and play around with a few of them. You find that Google Reader is a pretty good one and you start subscribing to every single interesting blog or feed you find.
  3. Not long after you suffer feed fatigue. There are just too many blogs. Too much noise, too much chaff. You discover Stumbleupon, Friend Feed and Twitter (I’m ‘donncha’ on each of those if you’d like to subscribe/follow!). Now the feeds or sites you read are recommended by your trusted circle of friends. You’ll still dig into your feed reader but it seems to happen less and less and that unread items count keeps going up and up.

Now if only I had time to check out Friend Feed properly. I find I’m skimming through the web these days. If I can’t scan a blog post and understand the main points of the page within a few seconds I’m gone. It’s a sad state of affairs.

If you’re time poor, how have your web surfing habits changed? (paradoxically, if you have time to comment here, you’re not that time poor. What a bind!)


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8 thoughts on “Skimming the web


  1. I spent about a month using Twitter and, yes, I totally “got” the point of it, good fun and very addictive, but ultimately decided that it was simply another shiny distraction/obligation that was drawing me away from being creative myself.

    I rely upon Google Reader and occasionally use the built-in “See Details” analysis to assess my usage and cull feeds that have become boring or self-indulgent … consider yourself warned O’Caoimh :D


  2. Grannymar – *wave* nice to see you around still :)

    Donnacha – unfortunately this is my blog and I’ll be as self indulgent as I like! On the other hand if you’re only interested in WP stuff, you could subscribe to the WordPress Category and miss out on my enlightening time poor posts!


  3. I’ll add another stage: consolidation. After suffering “feed fatigue” I now have different groupings for feeds: friends and family feeds that I want to keep up with because of my relationship to the person, various professional feed groups (teachers, wordpress, etc), and then “fun” feeds like boing boing and xkcd. By managing what’s in each group, I can be sure to stay on top of the things that are most important to me, and leave the other stuff for when I have free time.


  4. Donnacha – nah, I was just kidding, your non-WP posts are some of the very few, very casual threads that connect me to life back in Ireland; I gave up on following the Irish media years ago when the Irish Times went subscription only.

    Keep up the superb quality of indulgence!


  5. I’m actually afraid for diving full on into feeds. this might sound lame, but… I got so addicted to news sites in the last 6 months following the US election (even though I’m Canadian) that I barred certain sites on my computer using the /etc/hosts file. It is only a slight pain to edit that file, but enough that I don’t go to news.google.com or cnn.com or nytimes.com on a whim. It just eats up too much time habitually. I know, I should have more self control, but the internet is addictive.


  6. Aggregator managagement was always going to be a victim of its own success. The more diversity easy blogging enabled, the more likely people like yourself would want to slip in and out of the flow of information. Pretty soon, there are too many sources of information.

    Unless you have some kind of system for use on Twitter, those tweeple are going to suck time and energy from you as well because there are many ways Twitter appeals to the voyeur in each of us. Since few are paid to be voyeurs, Twitter needs to be understood for its strengths. I’m still trying to suss out whether it’s strong enough as anything beyond a Lazyweb tool.

    I have found more value from Friendfeed than I expected. That’s because I can configure real-time imaginery and actual friends in a flow and then easily see hives of activity around posts, images, and videos that appear in the Friendfeed flow. During the past four months, I get more information per screen view from selected Friendfeed rooms or by watching specific Friendfeed summaries. But that’s me, and it’s not as conversational as some purists would like us to see on the web.

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