Searching for the Noah’s Ark of Syndicated Content

Original © copyright 2003, University of Delaware College of Marine Studies.

Filed under “thank god I’m not alone in this”.

Khoi Vihn recently posted on a topic that I very strongly relate to… “So Many Blog Posts, So Little Time”:

The problem is there’s so much great, engrossing net activity and blogging going on, and I have so little free time. When I do find myself with a spare moment, I’m struggling just to keep this blog up-to-date, leaving me very little time to just surf. The net effect is that I just can’t keep up with what everyone’s saying, except in fits and spurts. So, when talking to folks whom I consider to be good friends, I’m perpetually embarrassed by my shallow knowledge of exactly what they’ve been up to.

Phew. Well, at least I know I’m not alone — and Tara’s feeling this too. Running a business, having a flooded inbox, dealing with being a human, all that stuff, well, it makes you wonder what’s going to happen when the long tail starts experiencing this problem and revolts by abandoning social networks in droves, unable to keep up with the steady stream of service notifications. I mean, feeds help — but only at literally aggregating content… they do nothing to actually provide you more attention or brain power to consume or make sense of the content.

Meanwhile, Matt over at SvN4 lays out a couple possible solutions to what he calls “The RSS avalanche”, proposing four different filtering solutions:

I’d add three more options:

But still, these are only mechanisms for paring down the content available to you to consume. How do you still pick from these filters the things that are worth revisiting, bookmarking, taking time to consider, or even to respond to, in the comments or on your own blog?

What will the solutions look like for non-tech savvy audiences? Or just folks who increasingly don’t have the time to fiddle around with setting up these filters? Is this not the suggesting an inevitable return to the travel agent model? Wouldn’t you like an information-travel-agent to pick out the most interesting content, customized for just you? Who you can trust not to let anything slip by? I don’t think that robots or community filters can play this role, though they can help.

So I have a confession to make. I’m only subscribed to 15 feeds right now. Total. And with email, I still can’t keep up. So what are you doing about the coming deluge? Have you discovered the Noah’s Ark of Syndicated Content? And if so, why haven’t you shared it yet?!

Author: Chris Messina

Head of West Coast Business Development at Republic. Ever-curious product designer and technologist. Hashtag inventor. Previously: (YC W18), Uber, Google.

4 thoughts on “Searching for the Noah’s Ark of Syndicated Content”

  1. I’d love to see a TiVo/Pandora sort of thumbs up thumbs down rating system with a feed reader.

    I also thing there is room for a sort of intelligent algorithm that would weigh many factors: what your trusted friends are reading, what posts receive the most stars, bookmarks, links, comments, etc. Imagine a user experience where you are simply presented with a stream of posts “what we think you might be most interested in” and then a “more” button. Ultimately, while it may be possible to get to the bottom of your inbox, there is really no getting to the bottom of feeds. Often feeds are treated like an inbox, but I think we’re going to have to gradually let go of this approach. There is simply too much (marginally) interesting stuff.

    One final thing – RSS feeds still aren’t the kind of thing my mom would want to use. I think what is going to push adoption of feeds into the mainstream is when they become seamlessly integrated with video content. Reading a few websites in one place? Big deal. But getting your children’s photos and your Desperate Housewives episodes in one place? That is disruptive.

  2. The total number of “sites” that I’ve been able to monitor has gone up dramatically since I started using Bloglines. It isn’t Noah’s Ark, but is a great place to start.

    I’ve been making it a point to keep only the feeds that consistently provide me with interesting reading.

    An idea that comes to mind would be mashing a site like Bloglines together with a site like or Ma.gnolia. I would love to be able to see which blog posts have been bookmarked by other people in my “friends group”.

  3. Pingback: Na Web 2

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