Then I started blogging I loved it. Reading others brought all those unexpected insights and relationships that improved my work dramatically. However, it also brought heavy information overload that I wasn’t prepared to deal with. Having many (more than I could ever imagine) bits of potentially useful insights with no immediate way to process them made me feeling stressed and lost. I am a bit better now, but it’s still not working well and I still envy Ton who not only wrote about need for new information processing strategies, but also figured out how those could work for himself (check his posts on filtering, tools and routines).
The social filtering mechanisms of weblogs and content delivery by RSS feeds are usually praised for their efficiency in allowing keeping up with many information sources, in my case a weblog-induced information overload became a reality. There are a few reasons for it:
Growing network. A relatively small circle of early-adopters writing about knowledge management and learning exploded over time, as more smart people started to blog.
Multidisciplinary blogging. My blogging reflects my interests in bridging multidisciplinary boundaries, so while I started mainly on KM and learning, it eventually turned into “personal productivity in knowledge-intensive environments, weblog research, knowledge management, PhD, serendipity and lack of work-life balance” and lots of other topics. Over time this got me into a contact with a diverse group of other bloggers.
RSS overload. There were periods of 1000+ subscribers to my RSS feed, but even without trying to keep up with all of them my weblog reading list grew to more than 200 weblogs and was a challenge to keep up.
Need to converge. Expansion of my weblog network and growing amount of potentially useful information coming through it came at the moment where my dissertation ideas started to converge. At that moment reducing information intake and the degree of engagement with others was essential for processing emerging insights and integrating them into a bigger whole. Reducing time spent reading other weblogs reflected at micro-level the suggestion to “stop reading and start writing” often given to PhD students struggling to incorporate recent publications in their work.
While the withdrawal from frequent and engaged blogging was a reflection of my personal and work circumstances at that period, the main challenge was adjusting my (blog-related) information processing strategies and habits. I can imagine that at a better moment I would be able to do it, but then I was simply trying to keep up and eventually gave up: I just stopped reading blogs systematically.
In turn, writing suffered:
- Since I wasn’t reading others, writing was stimulated mainly by my own thinking and work. Although I can’t check it fast, I can imagine that the amount of outgoing links dropped dramatically.
- I wasn’t seriously following on the feedback of others on what I wrote, so potential conversations died at birth. I can also imagine that for others it was less interesting to link and to comment to someone who wasn’t very responsive.
- At the end writing wasn’t much about engaging, but more about just putting things “out there”.
When Radio stopped working in January 2008, it was easy to take an extended break from blogging (additionally motivated by the fact that it was a natural point to “freeze” weblog archive to analyse it for my dissertation).Tags: blog reading, blog writing, information overload