April 7, 2008

Aggregation vs. Simplication

Over the past few weeks, there has been an interesting exercise in contrasts happening within my online landscape.
On one hand, there’s been a concerted move toward simplification perhaps inspired by the emergence of spring and the reality that work – PlanetEye – is getting busier. This has meant a drop in Facebook usage to almost nothing, a reduction in the number of RSS feeds in Google Reader, paring back the number of WordPress plugins within my blogs, a judicious approach to deciding who I follow on Twitter, cutting back on the number of Google Alerts, and making a real effort to not swing by Techmeme every hour on the hour.
At the same time, a growing number of tools have gained a lot of traction based on the idea they will make life online more convenient. Social aggregators such as FriendFeed are thriving on the promise of one-stop social networking; news aggregators such as newsflashr offer a single destination to get information from a variety of sources, while RSS services such as Toluu and fav.or.it are focused on make your RSS experience more productive and interesting.
On the surface, it looks like simplification and convenience should work hand in hand to make the Web more manageable. With fewer places to go and read, life online should be better and/or easier, right? Not quite.
The problem – and I think this is typical of many people enthusiastic about the Web – is that as much as you try to streamline things, there’s too much going on to really make things more simple unless you have amazing discipline. So while Facebook has lost its appeal and there are fewer RSS feeds to read, there’s always something new and interesting coming the corner that could be the next Twitter.
This means when you finally get an invitation to the fav.or,it and Tuloo betas, you jump on them rather than treading carefully to reflect your new simplification approach. It means that as you hack away on your RSS feeds, there’s always a blog that catches your attention and a new subscription.
That’s life online – so much to see, do and read but so little time.

Technorati Tags: Beta, Blogs, Facebook, FriendFeed, RSS

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