A Question for Geeky Folk

Does this sound familiar?

According to my Google Reader stats, I read over 19,000 articles of news, tidbits, posts and the like in 2010. By “read” I mean that they popped up, I skimmed over them and said, “Mark all as read”. Of the ones I actually absorbed, the number is closer to 6,000. That’s still a lot of news and none of it probably mattered at all.

I mostly read a lot of web, Apple, business and tech news. I follow dozens and dozens of feeds on those topics alone in Google Reader and I use Twitter as a means of keeping a curated list of people similar to me with shared interests that post interesting tidbits from sources I don’t directly follow.

So I was pretty excited when News.me launched. It’s a service that takes those Twitter feeds and spits out an email every morning with all the top links shared from the day before. That’s great, I guess, but I’ve already been made aware of those by following Twitter. The email I received today featured 4 out of 9 stories alone from Smashing Magazine. It’s completely dominated by a few top publishers and by the time I read it, it’s old news. Maybe I need more people to follow on Twitter, but then I lose all control of Twitter and it becomes a collage of crap like Facebook. It just shows me everything I’ve already read. If I stopped following Twitter, how would I ever know to follow new users and what about the folks that I like that don’t do tech stuff? For News.me to work, I still have to keep all those people in my feed.

What’s frightening is how much time I spend reading the news. I asked a friend how much time they spent browsing around and while it certainly varies, they can sometimes spend most all day reading blogs, posts and other things that really don’t matter. Unfortunately, I do the same thing. There needs to be a filter or system in place.

But that’s News.me; that’s the answer for the system to parse through and give you what you want. Except,  I don’t know what I want, necessarily. I know that I want the good news that matters and I want to stop spending so much time parsing through everything, but I don’t know where to look and where to find it. It consumes hours upon hours each week. It’s important for me to stay on top of these things; it’s my job, but it takes time that I could be using elsewhere. The system needs human curation. I don’t think it can be adequately automated. Even if I followed just a few of my favorite blogs, like Daring Fireball or Shawn Blanc, I’d be afraid I’m missing some great post from Mac Rumors or Neven’s blog.

So, my question for you, dear reader is this: does this sound familiar? Do you have this same problem? As much as I enjoy reading through all the various links, blogs and stories, I’d rather be in better control of my time by not spending all of it reading this stuff.

What if there was a news service that aggregated all this stuff into the top 10 stories with none of the fluff. GigaOm, Engadget, Tech Cruch, The Huffington Post Tech section, they all latch on to the link-bait stories and post something every 15 minutes. I don’t want to know that Steve Jobs might sneeze tomorrow or that Microsoft “might be in trouble” according to some no-name analyst predicting the future or that HTC released some new version of Android device and another one’s likely on the way next week. I want to know whats really happening, what’s really going to happen and I want updated just a couple times a day: in the morning before I wake up and in the evening after work.

Breaking news, like if Microsoft declared bankruptcy or Google inventing a second sun, would be worth an interruption. Some original reporting would be great, if it were good, too. Some new jQuery library or a gallery of inspirational websites or tips on how to use an iPad as a steering wheel aren’t of use to me. If I wanted to see a gallery or some snippet of code, I’d Google around for it.

I’d even be inclined to pay for such a service. $2.99 a month for a subscription to such a service would let me save countless hours of time and remove half my feeds and halve my desire to check Twitter all the time sounds like a life saver. Make it integrate with Instapaper and everything’s covered.

Yes, they’re podcasts like TWiT, but that’s once a week and is a little too slow for my tastes. I want to have something to read every day.

What about you? Does that sound more or less like what you’d want to see and read? Nothing sensational, nothing hyperbolic; just great coverage of the truly important news and tips linked to sources updated twice a day.

2 Comments

  1. I feel your pain. I subscribe to everything via Google Reader, and then I view using the Feedly Google Chrome extension. Feedly does a good job of organizing your sources into folders. I recommend you try it out. They have mobile versions of their app as well.

    I can tell you the last time I actually skimmed through all of my ‘tech news’ folder. More times than not, you’ll find me clicking “mark all as read” before I’ve even glanced at the first story. I know, before I even look, that my mind is about to be hijacked by a bunch of mindless stories which aren’t exactly relevant to me.

    I want to start subscribing to just specific categories on all these blogs I read. That was the feed I recieve is a bit more catered towards me.

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