Sunday, January 8, 2012

Cleaning out the information stream

During my recent holidays, I realized that I am not absorbing much of all the information that the internet constantly pours over me. Usually, I have several tabs open (mailboxes, news, social media sites, blogs,..) which continuously pour out information - and usually I can only scroll through and try to catch a few grains here and there. Still, it started taking me too much time, so I decided to do some major cleaning to start the year fresh.

Here's a few information channels that got clogged up with random noise:

1. Newsletters
I seem to have a constant stream of newsletters flowing into my mailbox, from every possible store I've ever visited and every company I've ever used a service from. Usually, I just delete these message without even opening them - but it still generates a lot of mail. And it still triggers me to check my mailbox (too) often to see if there's a new shiny thing in there. I now am opening every unwanted mail, and unsubscribing or marking these messages as spam (if it's not possible to unsubscribe).

2. Blog subscriptions
After not reading my Google Reader for a week, I had almost 300 posts to weed through. I realized that some (even most) subscriptions did not match my current interest anymore. For a while, I followed a lot of fashion blogs, learning how to put together a nice outfit from cheap stores and thrift stores. I also followed frugality blogs for a while, to get my personal finance together. Then, I also followed exercise and nutrition blogs. For all of these, I reevaluated the situation. I now only kept the subscription to blogs of which I still enjoy reading almost every single post, and I am very thankful for everything I learned through blogs or categories of blogs which I am not actively following anymore.

3. Facebook
With over 800 likes and over 500 friends, my facebook had turned into a museum of myself - and not a platform for interaction. I've significantly reduced the number of friends to people I genuinely interact with, and I'm working on reducing the number of likes. Hopefully, in a few months I'll have a newsfeed without much noise in it again.

4. Twitter
Likewise, my Twitter account was turning into an archive of past interests and memories. I've made some space in my following list, so I can focus again on the information I'm really after, and make some space for new ideas.

4 comments:

  1. 1. I have started to do the same with newsletters. Unsubscribed almost all of them.
    2. I like the Google Reader because it deletes anything older than a month. I usually have more than 1,000 unread items because I use it to subscribe blogs, newsletters and podcasts for my MP3 player. But whatever is old, automatically gets removed. If I miss something interesting, tough luck. There will be something else that is interesting as well, and my time is limited.
    3. I am happy that my Facebook account got deleted: http://andreasmoser.wordpress.com/2010/09/11/life-after-facebook/ I have so much more time again since.
    4. I refuse to do anything with Twitter.

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  2. Thanks for your input :) I think I gained a lot of new ideas from avidly reading around on the internet, being in sponge-mode, but now I think I've absorbed enough information and can clear out a lot of noise to get back to the core.

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  3. Nice post Eva. There is a new book on this topic that I'd like to read at some point:

    http://www.informationdiet.com/

    I also wrote a blog about improving signal to noise a while back. It's probably nothing you haven't thought of, but it covers a bit of how I approach this:

    http://jbdeaton.com/2010/optimizing-signal-vs-noise-in-online-reading/

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  4. That book looks really interesting, thanks for pointing it out :)

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