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Information overload

Posted on | October 23, 2007 | No Comments

Even with the abundance of social bookmarking services, RSS feeds, blog search engines and all of the other gizmos that are supposed to connect my demand for interesting things to read with a steady supply, I still have a hard time finding something good to read.

Some of this I’m sure is due to upcoming elections. I don’t like politics at all, I don’t like reading about political topics. Most articles on politics serve only to make me angry over a process that (beyond my single vote) is entirely out of my control. Political mud slinging and self promotion is the buzz in the news making it difficult to avoid.

Technology is ablaze and attracting writers, however I don’t always want to read about the latest and greatest gizmos while tolerating the angry fruit salad of links and banners created by the ad networks. On many of the popular technology web sites, the text is incidental, ads take up the majority of the page. I really prefer to not visit web sites that don’t allow me to read a single article with only one page view. Many of them make you click next >> five or six times to get through one reading.

Science is fun but the major sites suffer from ADD (advertisement displacement disorder). Technical topics are difficult to read without banner ads that promise better careers separating every other paragraph. Most of the scientific web sites just parrot what Scientific American (and others) are doing, which means if you read one you’ve read them all. No fun there.

Better living / lifestyle web sites are more self-harm than self help. Many “healthy living” web sites hire ghost writers to mass produce poorly crafted articles, often re-writes of something that I read a year ago. The advice is often so bad that I wonder how the owners of the web site escape liability law suits. I read one web site the other day that said you should be sure to feel guilty at least once a day, to keep a healthy perspective. Bah. Often, lifestyle web sites write for Google, not human beings.

Parenting web sites make me sad, there’s nothing like a bird’s eye view of millions of people ignoring their children then wondering what went wrong to spoil your morning coffee and pastry. Advice given by “child psychologists” makes me wonder how easy its gotten to get a license to practice these days. Sure, it can be interesting to read such stuff but your left with a frustrated feeling. Being frustrated is never fun and surely not relaxing.

Cooking web sites are a little better, creativity still manages to evidence itself on many of them, especially sites run by trendy cooks. I probably would never eat 2/3 of the stuff that they example, but wow its fun to see how they do things.

I’m sure that something neat could be found in one of the millions of blogs updated every hour, good luck finding it. Social bookmark services have degenerated into ad serving popularity contests. If I wanted an ad serving popularity contest, I’d watch American Idol. Meta search engines help, however many bloggers also suffer from ADD (advertisement displacement disorder), the ads displace the text (which should be the point of the blog to begin with).

Maybe some good natured software developer will craft some kind of “RSS Garden” application with some kind of filtering that learns what you find interesting, producing a nice custom blend of links to go read from thousands of sources and feeds. I know that such services exist as a service, however they too suffer from advertising displacement disorder, using what they learn about you to better target advertisements.

I started a little cloud of my own, built from hand selected sources that meet a pretty strict criteria. If you happen to enjoy reading on-line to relax, maybe you could share some of your more interesting finds by making something similar or sending me some links.

Is there some free service that does not blast ads or create a popularity contest that would help me weed through all of the junk? Recommendations are surely appreciated :)


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