Google Reader Changed How I Consume Information (again)

Yesterday I cleansed my Google Reader removing 75% of the feeds I subscribe to. Google Reader’s latest update adding people search, following, and likes completely changed how I consume information – with less noise and more signal.

For years I’ve been talking about creating networks of human filters. I’ve even tried building apps that allow these networks to form and once FriendFeed came along I realized that other people saw the value in creating these same types of filters. Techmeme also quickly realized what I’ve been thinking for years – a computer simply cannot remove all the noise and thus a human is necessary.

Back to Google Reader. So there are 10-15 blogs I read regularly. I was probably only interested in 10-20% of the “other” posts that came into Google Reader and due to the massive amount of noise I probably only got to read 10% of that 10% :-)

So yesterday I dove into Google Reader and started “following” people I trust to consume information, figure out what’s relevant, and share it. Now instead of subscribing to hundreds of RSS feeds I let Louis Gray, Robert Scoble, Michael Fruchter and others tell me what’s important.

See below

Google Reader Shared Network

This is a very refreshing way to consume information. The key is finding people in your industry that you trust and who share information.

More on how I consume a ridiculous amount of information with high signal and low noise in very small chunks coming in future posts – mostly using FriendFeed lists :-)

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13 Responses to Google Reader Changed How I Consume Information (again)

  1. abrudtkuhl July 23, 2009 at 6:06 am #

    I must disagree with one point – RSS is far from dead. It's the plumbing that powers the new web. It's how content outposts are populated. It's still the underlying technology fueling mass distribution of new media content.That being said – the traditional means of consuming RSS is what *may* be dying. It will never make it mainstream as newer technologies and services hide the underlying protocols. People will be using it without even knowing it.

  2. Tsudo July 23, 2009 at 10:50 am #

    It seems that you and I have very compatible thinking. Signal vs. Noise is the reoccurring theme throughout my social media experience and recommendations. I too have really enjoyed Google Reader especially after I went through an RSS purge 2 weeks ago. (RSS is Dead, Long Live RSS |

    In addition my entire approach to Friendfeed has been maximizing Signal to Noise ratio. I think you'll find alot of common ground in my posts and presentation (

    I'll be looking forward to your post.

  3. Jan Horna July 23, 2009 at 11:25 am #

    OK, now your GReader looks more like Have you found the way of merging those two information-sources together? Because I would like to have ONLY ONE service that tells me what's new. Something like super-social-feeder with much Signal and low Noise :)

  4. abrudtkuhl July 23, 2009 at 12:14 pm #

    Jan – yes that's exactly how I use FriendFeed list. I have a list called “A-LIST” that has all those “trusted sources” in it. So when they share something it gets aggregated to that FriendFeed list. I've found this to be one of the best ways to consume high signal, low noise content.

    But now you can do that in Google Reader – so you can choose one or the other to consume the same information.

    I've not yet decided which provides more value since I spend a lot of time in both. The conversations are where I find a lot of value in FriendFeed.

  5. Jan Horna July 23, 2009 at 12:26 pm #

    Thanks for useful tips. Looks like I will have to invest some time to reorganize GReader the way you did. BTW I also appreciate conversations at FriendFeed, highly insightful in most cases.

  6. Tsudo July 23, 2009 at 12:28 pm #

    Oh I completely agree. I never intended to say that RSS was dead as a technology. I was merely saying that RSS was dead to me because I'd mismanaged it. After I put some time into organizing and unsubscribing my RSS was once again a valuable tool for me.

  7. Louis Gray July 23, 2009 at 12:53 pm #

    Andy, thanks for sharing this and showing how you rely on the human filter aspect to get your news. I think this will be happening more and more frequently and am glad you trust me to be part of that flow.

  8. abrudtkuhl July 23, 2009 at 1:22 pm #

    Louis – I think the human filter will become more and more important in easing information overload. Now that we are seeing solutions implementing the human filter we need more ways to discover people that can act as these filters. FriendFeed is definitely leading the charge in helping people find other people that have similar interests based on content they share.

    Thank you for stopping by as well as helping me evaluate what's important in the tech world!

  9. abrudtkuhl July 23, 2009 at 1:56 pm #

    Ahhh – I should have read further :-)

  10. abrudtkuhl July 23, 2009 at 1:57 pm #

    Thanks Jan!

  11. Kartik Agaram July 23, 2009 at 2:08 pm #

    1. So why should I follow you? :) The breadth of your reading affects the quality of your writing, your ability to make unique connections. If you follow only the influential people I think you'll be less interesting.

    2. All my experts post in multiple categories, and I don't care about all the categories. What should I do?

    My response to both is to value diversity in my feed reader, and to find alternatives to raw time order ( I see that screenshot with just three people represented and go blech :) Here's what I use:

    (I've started adding more signals to rank posts, but that isn't released yet.)

  12. abrudtkuhl July 23, 2009 at 2:35 pm #

    @Kartik – Very good questions

    1. My following list is well beyond “influential” people. You see three people because they are “power sharers” and at the time of the screenshot they were the ones who had shared stuff today. My list includes friends who are blog readers and whose opinion I value a lot. The list also includes colleagues both in the web development and web strategy industries. Using this technique I am able to read what's important to them – which is likely important to me.

    2. Most blogging platforms offer RSS feeds based on categories or tags – you can try subscribing to those. Or run the feeds through FriendFeed or Yahoo! Pipes to glean out information based on keywords, likes, and comments.

    I've also been using Feedly as a way to consume content as it has the ability to order based on the number of people who have “liked” or “shared” something.

    I used to value diversity in my GR stream as well until I found out how much time I was wasting consuming information that really doesn't matter. I find my diversity in FriendFeed now (much like you do) – where the human filter can be scaled and the best content inevitably rises to the top. I get by the time ordering problem you describe in your post by creating filters and lists based on several factors – both around people and topics. It takes some time but the system works well.

    Thanks for stopping by, leaving an excellent comment, and subscribing!

    Your tool looks

  13. Gregory Norman July 27, 2009 at 5:05 am #

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