Thursday, March 15, 2007

Too Much Information

I've noticed lately that my Google Reader inbox is more full than ever. It's not because of all the new feeds I'm adding - I've actually unsubscribed from a number of them. I don't have stats to back this up, but I believe it's because overall post volume on many blogs and news sites is increasing.

Fine. I like to stay informed, who doesn't?

Except that a lot of these posts are just for the sake of posting. When I read about disaster preparedness on Seeking Alpha and entertainment news (read: gossip) on The Register, something is wrong.

My friend Kevin Ho hates mainstream media. I disagree with him on most of his reasons, but he always points out that when the average person reads a newspaper article, he accepts that the facts and general position presented therein are accurate. Until he reads an article about a topic that he knows something about, and then he says, "What are these idiots talking about? They're missing the point entirely!"

Which is one of the reasons why I love blogs - it allows an expert in a certain subject to post about topics in an area in which he/she has extensive knowledge. And then I can aggregate the topics I care about in my RSS reader. No more amateurs writing about topics in which they have little background or understanding.

Unfortunately, many of these sites seem to be getting a big head about their traffic numbers and have started to assume that their readers live on their sites and go nowhere else, or else are attempting to squeeze more pageviews to generate those all-important ad dollars. At least, those are the possible rationales I've come up with for their explosions in posting, especially about topics outside their areas of expertise. Posts which are at best misguided, and at worst spam.

Even posts within a site's usual topical areas can be annoying if they're frivolous. For example, tech news outlets The Register and The Inquirer both post about 30-40 articles per day. Occasionally I'll click through to one with an interesting title, only to find that it's one paragraph long and contains no real information. Leave it out!

Mind you, I'm okay with a breadth of posts on personal blogs - the volume is low enough that ignoring the chaff doesn't take long, and some of it may even be interesting. And not all big sites are guilty of this posting diarrhea - Pitchfork only posts about music, Tom's Hardware about computer hardware, The Real Deal about real estate. But sites like Jalopnik and GigaOM, you're on notice. Keep up the crappy posts, and I'm dropping your feed.

(Yes, I realize that by posting this I'm guilty of the offense about which I'm complaining. I'm okay with the hypocrisy.)