Monday, November 07, 2005

The problem of plenty

I’ve been thinking about the problem with too much of information. With broadband, online versions of newspapers, magazines, blogs and RSS, there is simply too much of information to process.

The primary issue is with the number of updates.

Ofcourse, it’s the responsibility of the reader to pick and choose, but sometimes, you are only looking for a sub-section of the updates made and there is more to eliminate than to select and read. For example, a lot of people who’re subscribed to say or to the feeds of education columns in BBC might tell you that updates are too frequent and far too many. This issue might be more relevant to international readers – which, in these cases, I’m one – since we might be looking for some of the ‘wonderful things’ that we too (as Indian readers) can cherish, or updates about the happenings in education domain that might affect everyone, whereas too many updates are limited to readers from specific region (US etc). I guess BoingBoing is one site that I’ve subscribed to and unsubscribed from the most number of times because of the frequency of updates. Sometimes, you want to read but you just can’t keep up with the pace.

The second important component of this problem is that most of the updates come sans any sort of highlighting – no usage of block letters, italics, sub-headings, points or even paragraphs.

In short, readability becomes very, very difficult and even if you just want to skim through, it’s like the author doesn’t want you to. I guess this is because the newspaper article writers or we as bloggers assume that readers have unlimited time to spend on articles or our own posts, which is wrong. It’s probably because of this assumption that no effort is made by most of the writers to make the posts ‘skimmable’, i.e., it would make a lot of difference if the newspaper/blog updates etc highlight important points or give a summary of the whole post so that readers, who are busy, can just read the summary or the highlighted areas and skip the rest of the content, while interested-others can spend time to analyze and ponder over what’s written. This is especially relevant to articles that spell out a lot of facts and come to concrete conclusions. In that sense, YouthCurry is one blog that does a lot to make the posts readable.

I have to confess that I don’t even read half as much from the net as what many of the polished bloggers do, but these are serious turn-offs nevertheless. Today was one such day when I had to catch up all the left-out articles and there were around 1000+ unread RSS feeds from ‘The Hindu’ alone, despite having subscribed only to sections that matter the most to me. I’m sure I don’t even have the time to read even the title of all those feeds.

These issues are also relevant to some of the new blogs that crop up every now and then. If I come across a comment asking me to ‘take a look’ at a blog, I do visit those blogs, unless I smell a spam rat, but the length of the posts, the amount of personal content, and the lack of highlighting are complete turn-offs.

Maybe all of us could make a sincere effort to make the posts more skimmable?


At Monday, November 07, 2005 3:50:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Am always in awe of the kinda way u analyse things...cheers!!

At Monday, November 07, 2005 5:59:00 PM, Blogger Admin said...

Quite true, a friend who I didn't know read my blog called up one day and asked me when I will write shorter posts.
Brevity is the soul of the wit, I am not a wit afterall.. And yeah, youth curry's highlighting in bold sure does help..
at least I have graduated to italics..

At Thursday, November 10, 2005 6:22:00 AM, Blogger Subrahmanyam KVJ said...

Hmm.....Abt the skimmability aspects of blogs....Well, Aren't blogs meant to be a outlet of *your* thoughts....Defining them on readers preferences ??? ....and writing blogs, good long ones at that are very much an off-shoot of one's love for writing coming thro...Agreed, line between blogs and news sites are blurring...Neverthless......My 2p :)

At Thursday, November 10, 2005 5:16:00 PM, Blogger Jammy said...

Govar, I envy you for getting to keep your reading habbit going. I've lost it over the past few months due to a variety of reasons. I hope you have a better time after re-entering the corporate jungle.

At Thursday, November 10, 2005 6:54:00 PM, Blogger Govar said...

@Subbu: You missed my point. Im completely with you on the opinion that blogs are personal tools and bloggers get to write what they want to, but Im just speaking about the presentation part of it... making things easy for blog readers.

@Ramanuj: Yeah, I myself have doubts about access to broadband et all. Hoping for reading more once Im out... :)

At Sunday, November 13, 2005 4:38:00 PM, Blogger Rahul said...

Exactly. Forget logging into bloglines or any other feeds and within few days what we have is zillion unread articles. I am left with no choice but to ignore them or atleast tag them as read :-)

At Monday, November 14, 2005 12:30:00 PM, Blogger Docs Dope said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

At Monday, November 14, 2005 3:51:00 PM, Blogger Govar said...

Dope.. whoever posted. If you can't make a point without taking a personal assault, please keep off.

At Friday, November 18, 2005 3:17:00 PM, Blogger susubala said...

U go ahead the way u like. I think one can put the words on their way into their blog and its upto the people to get observed or not. Anyway, I like going through ur posts, eventhough it is the 1st time.

At Monday, November 21, 2005 8:40:00 PM, Blogger Govar said...

Ofcourse its people's choice, but i thought one moment for readers is not a tough thing. THanks for visiting.


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