Clearing out

Over the last three years my feed aggregator – Google Reader – has become two things.

It has become a hideously expanded mass of websites waiting for me to pore over, and it has become a hideously expanded mess of websites, waiting for me to pore over.

I do wonder how I – we – used to keep on top of things, in the bad old days, before websites generated RSS feeds, don’t you?

There can’t be any many people left on this planet who don’t use a Reader to manage their surfing habits.

But did I – did we – really keep visiting and revisiting websites, in a daily routine, to see if they had been updated?

Yes, sadly, I – we – did.

But even back then, with the aid of bookmarking, and the ability to file away website addresses in folders and sub-folders in our browser’s memory, keeping on top of things was, for a while, relatively easy.

Inevitably, though, the list of websites in my ‘daily checklist’ slowly began to challenge the amount of time I had available in which to undertake my ‘daily check’.


The wider I roamed across the world-wide-webish tundra, and the more I collected a wider range of varied and interesting websites; discovered strange new topics, the more difficult the act of keeping on top of my various reading lists became.

With the introduction of website aggregators, things became easier, for a while.

Bloglines – the tool of discerning web-surfers in those days – turned the act of keeping on top of my web-based reading in to such an easy task; I loved the simplicity that Bloglines gave me.

Broadband soon arrived and, in conjunction with Bloglines, keeping on top of my daily, weekly – and even monthly – reading lists because a task of such ease that I increased my web-use significantly.

But – and you knew there was a ‘but’ coming, didn’t you? – the easy peasy point-and-shoot functionality of broadband, combined with the seductively simple ‘come hither’ ease of use of my Bloglines feed aggregator led, as you knew it would, to a massive upswing in the number of websites I was visiting regularly.

My reading lists got out of control.


Like a kind of Godzilla, powered exclusively by reading frustration as it strode, angrily, across the landscape; uprooting trees, pulling down buildings and generally instilling fear and trepidation left, right and, indeed, centre, my control had slipped to enable my reading lists to grow to such tremendous dimensions that they became worse than unmanageable.

And yet I let this situation continue to grow.

That’s where my web-reading has been, for most of the last year; unmanageable.

And yet, like some kind of web-savvy, but slightly foolish virgin, I have ignored the unmanageability of my aggregator.

Right up until this weekend I have continued to add more and more websites to Google Reader (my current aggregator) on an almost daily basis, whilst continuing to struggle with the impossibility of a reading list the length of the Nile.

When I sat down to write this post I had 2,473 unread items in Reader.

But, half an hour later, I have reduced that number of unread web-articles to…


I have been ruthless, and I have been ruthless for a reason.

The cost of allowing my reading list to expand out of control has been to demotivate me from writing.

The sitcom has been on the back-burner for six months, although I did blow the dust off the screenplay, over the weekend, and tidied up a couple of scenes.

But it needs finishing, and I’m not going to be able to do that if I’m wrestling with an unmanageable reading list every night.

And, away from the sitcom, I have a number of other projects that need my time and effort.

So I have decided to decimate my reading lists.

I have gone back to basics; the websites of my friends, and those websites I have a tangible, contributory interest in. And one or two exceptions, perhaps.

But the bottom line is that my Reader subscriptions to everything else have been thrown out.

Hopefully this drastic cutback will give me some time to get back on track with my writing.

And that – and the company of friends and loved ones – is what is really important.

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6 Responses to Clearing out

  1. Masher says:

    I’d noticed that you’re not so prolific a blog poster as once you were and this explains it.

    Pah! And there I was blaming Twitter. 😉

    • Brennig says:

      Masher, me old mucker, just lack of time due to a metric fuckload of competing priorities. Gradually getting back on top of things now though.

  2. nuttycow says:

    I wish I had your ruthlessness. Sadly I’m too attached to my 4,000,000 subscriptions to delete any of them 🙁

  3. Vicola says:

    I’ve been crap at keeping up with blogs recently, utterly crap. Nearly as crap as I’ve been at writing on my own one. Sometimes you just go through demotivated and busy times. When I win the euromillions and no longer have to waste 45 hours a week at work I imagine I’ll be much better.