More on The Media Fast Experiment
Today should be day 5 of my media fast experiment, but as I predicted/promised in my previous post, I would sneak a peek on Sunday. And so I did. In about an hour and half yesterday, I made it through 182 posts in Google Reader, less than half of the ~400 a day I was averaging prior to the experiment. Still, despite only lasting three days into the experiment, I've come away with some valuable insight.
First, and perhaps most importantly, bumming around the internet is no longer my go-to action when I've found myself with nothing to do. Even yesterday, when I spent time in Google Reader, I also found time to catch up on some posts for my other blog and even process and upload some photos to Flickr from my trip to Puerto Rico last March.
Google Reader's expanded view, which shows full posts in a river of news format, is a great way to sift through a bunch of garbage while finding the few gems you really enjoy. In an effort to be more selective, I've switched to list view, which shows me headlines for about 25 posts in a way similar to Gmail. Picking and choosing is much easier when you've expanded the number of headlines visible on screen 15-25 times.
The only thing I wish I could do was mark items as read without giving them credit for being read. There's a bunch of stuff in there that I will probably never read, and it looks like it'll build up unless I do choose to mark it as read. A minor complaint, but on the bright side it should make unsubscribing from low signal-to-noise ratio feeds much, much easier (Engadget and the rest of the Weblogs, Inc sites, I'm looking at you).
In response to William's comment, I do think he's right to a degree. If your job is news-driven (you work on Wall Street, in PR, in journalism, etc), then you do have to keep up with the news. Even still, not every news item you come across is 100% relevant and the experiment helps to make that clear. And for those of us whose jobs aren't exactly news driven, much of it isn't relevant - we simply consume it for enjoyment. For most, consumption is way out of balance with production. As with any habit-altering experience, we must often go too far in one direction in order to ultimately end up in the middle.