There has been a rather interesting discussion going on today on FriendFeed as a result of a post by Jason over at webomatica. In his post Jason primarily talks about getting some control back over the flood of information that comes his way via his subscribed RSS feeds, Twitter and FriendFeed.
For Jason this means doing some pruning of some 200+ feeds down to a more manageable count of 60. He reasons in his post that what he will miss from this pruning will be more than made up from his use of FriendFeed. Jason also made the point that for him FriendFeed is replacing his reliance on GReader to bring him what is interesting or important due to what he calls “…the social filter of other FriendFeed users“.
This got me to thinking about the whole world of RSS feed readers, Twitter, FriendFeed and Shared Links Feeds (SLFs) like Google Shared Links or Newsgator Shared links. Also included in the mix could be things like ReadBurner, RSSMeme, Techmeme and Digg. While all these forms of sharing information are typically lumped together as social aggregators meant to make the information consumer‘s life easier I have; as a blogger / content creator / content provider, begun to look on them more as tools instead of an end game.
As this tsunami of information keeps rolling over us at an ever increasing amount these aggregators have become almost indispensable for a lot of people but I wonder if at some point bloggers who use these new social media tools correctly will become the better aggregator – or better yet a personal news anchor for the people that read their blogs or follow them on the various social media outlets.
In the comments to Jason’s message on FriendFeed Mike McBride questioned my assumption regarding this news anchor concept suggesting that this idea was only recreating the role of a information gatekeeper which is what the whole idea of RSS feeds and blogs was suppose to get us away from
@Steve So instead of moving away from mass media, we just become mass media? I thought the whole beauty of RSS is that you don’t need gatekeepers any more, you subscribe to what you want to subscribe to, and follow what you want to pay attention to, apparently not.
AS valid as that concern is I don’t think it applies in this case for a number of reason. First off as I said in my reply to him that bloggers are essentially gatekeepers as it is. We become a gatekeeper; a word I really don’t like that much, the moment we get our first blog visitor or RSS subscriber. This happens because the reader or subscribe likes what he or she reads because it fits in with their own thoughts and feelings. As Greg Hollinsworth said in a post on How to Split an Atom
The goal of new media is to create information at a volume never before considered, allowing infinite vantage points for every possible situation. However, people tend to gravitate towards those who share their own worldview, regardless of its accuracy.
This is something that will never change it doesn’t matter the medium you use to share the things you find interesting whether it be by writing about it or posting about to a service like FriendFeed.
The other side of the coin however if the consumer of all this information and how they deal with this increasing amount of information. Granted as producers and aggregators of this information bloggers could very well be reading more into the situation of information overload than is needed. After all it benefits us to make our take on things that are going on but that doesn’t change the reality that people are trying to find more and better ways to deal with things that interest them.
For the consumer it is a constant battle to fine tune how they get their information after all they aren’t interested in dedicating as much time to keeping up to date as bloggers are. For them it is a matter of picking and choosing as quickly as possible so that they can go onto other things in their lives that are important. So things like FriendFeed serve a purpose but even there trying to parse through everything that is going on can be a difficult process not to mention time consuming as well.
Where bloggers can be the most useful to their readers and / or social aggregator followers is by learning how to use all the social tools available to us and basically act as a filter. After all this is our social network and it only exists because our readers / followers find value in what we bring to them whether it be through our blogs or on a social aggregator. We in effect become their news hub. We might be one of many but at some point they have developed a sense of trust in the news we send their way.
We have in effect I believe become news anchors providing our readers with a way to manage their daily information flow.