Ethel, I think we’re fighting a losing game!

What do you call it when your feeds are filling up faster than you can read them?

Over coffee yesterday a friend remarked that she’s frustrated all her “friend feeds”–with so many friends doing so many things, by the time she’s finished reading the feed is filled up again!

I can certainly relate to this. If I actually attempted to read every post of blogs I’m subscribed to, and every update and zombie attack from friends in Facebook, and every email from strangers…I wouldn’t have time left to eat and sleep, let alone keep a job!

Many years ago a computer science professor of mine called these class of problems (which occur many places in programming) as “The Chicago Bar Problem”: It is impossible to visit every bar in Chicago, because by the time you would be “finished”, so many bars would have closed and new bars opened. (It seems though, that this terminology hasn’t caught on in the passing years, as Wikipedia has no entry for “Chicago Bar Problem” but does have one for the related “Dining Philosophers Problem“.)

Any ideas on what to call this phenomena?

On a geekier note: This problem is only spreading as more people consume more information online, and more information is published online. It underscores the need for effective filtering. There are tricks people can learn to do this, as when Scoble showed how he reads 622 feeds each morning. But I the ultimate solution will come from software, which will ultimately extend the information filtering already done by our brain. (See my post on Digital Cortex.)

On a less geekier note, here is Lucy struggling with this problem nearly 50 years ago; (Just replace the chocolates with blogs posts in your mind.)

Link for Video

4 thoughts on “Ethel, I think we’re fighting a losing game!”

  1. There is a solution and it is pretty simple. Don’t subscribe to feeds!

    Several years ago I subscribed to bloglines cause so many of my blog buddies assured me I would love it. Well guess what? Being the anal-retentive control freak I am, I soon discovered that bloglines did not update the second my selected ‘favorite’ blogs updated. That turned me off right there. The thought that I might be ‘missing out’ on something, even if only be a half hour or so.

    Bringing this comment back to feeds. Let’s say that all feed providers vanished. What would you do? You’d go back to reading your favorites and clicking on the links one by one. Could you possibly read all the blogs you previously had on your feed. Maybe. Maybe not. Does it really matter?? If something/someone/some blog is important enough to you, you will find time to fit it into your schedule.

    My 2 cents, fwiw.

Comments are closed.