Sunday, July 07, 2013

Information Overload

A few weeks ago, I signed up for Feedly and installed it as an app in Google Chrome. I had tried Google Reader and didn't really see much use for it. Yet, after reading about the impending demise of Google Reader, I decided to see if an RSS reader would be really useful.

For those who don't know, RSS stands for Really Simple Syndication. RSS is a worldwide standard that makes it easy for websites to publish their headlines and a snippet. As such, an RSS reader allows you to pull the headlines from nearly any news source and put them on one page. One very appealing feature of RSS readers is that they provide a handy way to scan the latest news on any website, without having to visit that website and look at any advertising. RSS readers also allow you to scan all of your favorite news sources in one place.

Feedly is a very slick and smooth application for RSS. Feedly runs in the background as I browse. When I come across a page that loads headlines, I can click on a translucent icon at the bottom right corner of the page to add it to my RSS reader feed. When I loaded Feedly for the first time, it prompted me to use a Gmail account, which I selected. Then it gathered the feeds from Google Reader for me and used that to start.

From there, I went to all the places I like to read news and added them to my Feedly application. As I added them, I created a few categories, and at first, I actually used them. But there is one category, "All" that I now use every day. The All category will display everything. I can set preferences so that the headlines are displayed in a way that is appealing to me.

Of the four display settings available, I like the Title Only setting, represented by 4 horizontal bars. This shows only headlines with no pictures and very short snippets. It is, in a sense, the beer-bong of news. The headlines are straight and fast. Feedly is very fast, too. So even if you refresh the page, you'll only be waiting a fraction of a second.

After using this application for a few weeks, I found that I developed a definite sense of information overload. There is only so much time in a day. When the sky is blue with puffy little clouds everywhere, I'd rather be out flying a kite than spending all day reading news on my computer. I get a little overwhelmed by all the headlines and really don't know where to start. Maybe I am tracking too many news sources. 

If you're a newshound, you're going to just love Feedly. If you have a life after computers, then you'll want to keep Feedly on a leash to be sure you'll have time to get out and play with your friends and family. The Internet is designed to route around damage and distribute information at the lowest possible cost, and does the job with amazing aplomb and success. Feedly only makes that more apparent, at the cost of having a life.
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