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Information Overload

I posted this one on "Ask Joel" area, but the thread got deleted. I'll give it another shot here.

I am overwhelmed by the amount of information available. In the past just keeping up with magazines, newspapers and business journals was tough enough. Now we have discussion forums, web blogs, rss feeds and all kinds of internet sites to visit to read up on interesting happenings or at least remain in sync with what's going on. I end up spending a lot of time doing information hunting in this way.

Do you guys have the same problem? If so, how are you coping with it?


Friday, March 19, 2004

uhhh, don't try to keep up with all of it?

Friday, March 19, 2004

I find the level of duplication across new sources means I don't have keep up with everything. 

a cynic writes...
Friday, March 19, 2004

Well keeping up is one problem. The other problem is that I come across quite a few sites which seem interesting. However, I won't know if they are interesting unless I spend some time with them which again eats into my time.

I kinda wanted to know how much time you people spend each day reading websites, blogs, magazines, books, etc.

Friday, March 19, 2004

I, for one, welcome our new Information Overlords.

Friday, March 19, 2004

I prefer to "do" rather than read about other people "doing."

Friday, March 19, 2004

I bookmark potentially interesting sites into categories, and then come back later if there is a need in that category.

However, reading classic topical books (e.g. those recommended by Joel) has been significantly more educational than online topical sources.  As an example, a large percentage of the discussions on this board are addressed by The Pragmatic Programmer.

Scot Doyle
Friday, March 19, 2004

Decide what you want for a  period:
Do not look beyound it besides few exceptional things.

Things becomes interesting, only because you have 'interest' in it. Remember, the binding factor is 'your interst' and not the things themselves.

If you find so many interesting things, you  should go one level higher. Find 'valuable ' things.  It will filter out 'mere interesting' things.  The thing of 'immidiate value' will be more important. Since you are getting 'value' instead of 'interest', you will be more wiser along the process.

Friday, March 19, 2004

"I bookmark potentially interesting sites into categories, and then come back later if there is a need in that category."

I do that same thing, but it's hard to keep track of all of those categories.

Mr. Analogy
Friday, March 19, 2004

I bookmark things too, but now I have literally hundreds of them. There is no way I can go to each individual link everyday and see what changed.

I like what Programmer said. Perhaps looking for value amongst interesting things is the way to go. That should cut down the bookmarks quite a bit. At least the ones that are a "one-time" kind of thing. It still doesn't cut down on the "repeat visit" type of bookmarks which change on a daily basis.

Friday, March 19, 2004

This (to me at least) is one of the cool things about RSS.  I can subscribe to a massive number of feeds (way more than I'd be able to check manually with any frequency).  There are three benefits to this:

1) It remember which feeds I'm interested it -- I don't have to keep a massive list of bookmarks, post-it notes with "that's a cool blog", etc.

2) It tells me when there's new content instead of me having to poll it every X days.  So I can be lazy and just look at the RSS reader to see all new content.

3) It makes skimming really easy.  I'd never be able to read all this stuff if I had to do it via a web page.  With RSS, items load in the background and the interface of my reader makes it really easy to glance at headlines and/or articles that seem interesting.  If it's really good I'll read it in detail, but otherwise I'll move on.

Michael Kale
Friday, March 19, 2004

I second Ron's comments.

Also, I agree that there's just too much out there to keep up with.  However, recently (like in the past couple weeks), I've decided to spend some set amount of time looking at my favorite haunts for what's new out there (Slashdot/Tom's Hardware/CNN/blogs/etc) and no more.

I like learning about new knick knacks out there.  But I've found that for all the information available, most of it simply makes no difference to me.  I "discovered" something that database experts have known for years.

Friday, March 19, 2004

So what's the best RSS reader?  Please no links to sourceforge when I download a tar file and....well you get the idea.

RSS newbie
Friday, March 19, 2004

I like but I have heard nice things about and as well.

Just me (Sir to you)
Friday, March 19, 2004

I use the RSS reader extension on Firefox.  It hasn't got loads of features but works for me.

a cynic writes...
Friday, March 19, 2004

Once you realise that most of the information out there is crap, you stress a lot less about missing something.

Just read what interests you and you have the time and patience for. We live in a complex world, and can't hope to know everything.

Remember, if you know more than the next guy, to him you're an expert. So you don't have to go over the top. ;)

Sum Dum Gai
Friday, March 19, 2004

I used to look at a lot of the sites - usually through

But now I rarely look at that stuff.  Not only are the tech news / reviews sites a big time sink, but they also feed the tech lemming culture.

Anyone know of some good sites that have a long term perspective on technology trends?

Friday, March 19, 2004

I like MIT's "Technology Review": 

I haven't actually bought a paid subscription, but a lot of the articles (50%?) are available free online: 

(not sure if they have an RSS feed or not)

- former car owner in Queens
Friday, March 19, 2004

Online RSS reader, which I like:

Robert Jacobson
Friday, March 19, 2004

About ten years ago or so, the problem for many was the exact opposite. That is, many people were probably upset by the lack of information sharing within this industry.

While I am pretty sure the original poster is referring to "keeping up with technological changes/innovations", other programmers are not only trying to keep with changes in computer technology they are also trying to learn as much as possible about specific business domains, IT project management, running an IT business, contracting vs. full-time employment, improving their business skills (writing, selling, marketing, etc.), improving their analysis skills, and the list goes on and on and on. Some people are jumping all over the map because they know each employer/client carries their own set of expectations and they are simply trying to be as marketable as possible.

I guess that all I am trying to say with this post is that while most people share the same understanding of the term "information overload", not every programmer experiences it in the same manner.

One Programmer's opinion
Friday, March 19, 2004

"So what's the best RSS reader?"

John Topley (
Sunday, March 21, 2004

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