Fred has picked up the thread for the looming attention crisis, something I have written in the past, extensively. Fred talks about the number of RSS feeds and how they slowly start to become feed-creep. At this point, I have over 100 feeds subscribed to in […]

Fred has picked up the thread for the looming attention crisis, something I have written in the past, extensively. Fred talks about the number of RSS feeds and how they slowly start to become feed-creep.

At this point, I have over 100 feeds subscribed to in various readers. And I have frankly stopped paying attention to most of them.

cuckooLike Fred, I have been overwhelmed, and have started trimming the feed list. The Ten Must, the 40 next is my motto these days. I agree with Fred when he writes, “I feel in my gut that we are facing a “poverty of attention” and something is going to give.”

Lets juxtapose this with the so-called business model of this blog. Most of the advertisers (including Google AdSense) are based on the 20th century model of CPM, which basically means creating more and more pageviews. In reality, any blogger worth his opinion should be striving for attention. Attention, that is becoming harder to get and retain. I have been chanting the Less is More mantra in recent times, trying to restrict the # of posts, and focus on saying something that gets your attention. So is there an alternate model? I don’t have the answer, but do you?

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  1. A blogger worth his opinion doesn’t have to strive for reader attention. Reader attention is a result of a blogger’s work being worthy of it.

    The attention deficit in readers is not for writers to address.

    That’s how I feel at least.

  2. that is very kind of you to say that jeff. i do feel that one has to work harder and harder this days to retain attention, not just attract attention

  3. I think that proper labeling of content (for the consumer) goes a long way to help focus attention. So instead of you as the content producer creating less high quality content, I would prefer a steady stream of whatever came to your mind as long as it was labeled something like: Om 3 course meal, Om light lunch, Om sugary snack. That way I could check out a few sugary snacks while waiting for my girlfriend to finish getting ready, or a 3 course meal when I’ve got a fresh mind and 20-30 minutes to spare. Maybe if NetNewsWire indicated the length of the content of a post graphically without clicking on it, that might help. Although I think there’s more to “heavyness” than content length.

  4. I think there will be an attention crisis once a large number of blogs hit the top 20% of the web with regards to traffic. Till then I think what you are experiencing is a content crisis where all content is simply being recycled 100x over and therefore our feeds start to look pointless.

  5. I don’t have the time to blog, but I do have the time to comment:-) I enjoy reading quite a few now. As a beginner last year, I kept reading a lot of blogs, now after a while, a few of them have become my favorites (Om’s blog is one them) and I know the list is not going to stay the same as time goes by.

    It’s like a bunch of my favorite TV channels, fav. TV sitcoms, fav. TV news, fav. scotch, fav. foods … As of now I’ve just a few fav. blogs and that’s all I read now.

  6. Your right Om. The span of attention is very less these days , its probably beacause of the options available , where one has option of looking at various resources and figuring out which one makes more sense to you . I guess a personalized contextual RSS feader which knows what I like reading , would be probably a better idea :) .
    These days one needs to differentiate his content from a myraid of blogs or information to gain the attention . But I realised over a period of time , the more the differentiation is being put forth , the more they look familiar.
    My personal opinion is one , should be very contextual and precise to gain reader attention and confidence to explore his content further. I guess the time is gone where you write a 2-3 pager articles and wait for audience to go through it , which isnt possible unless you have build your own brand over period of time. And those who have build their personal brands , dont write too often and thats why people wait for their content and read it with a different mindset , like taste of my kind of coffee which I enjoy.

  7. The problem with what Toby proposes is that when I see a lot of Om snacks, my brain tunes itself to the ‘fact’ that snacks are the only things Om can serve. Thus the next time the three course meal comes through, snacks would have ‘filled’ my perception and I would throw it away without eating it.

    Less is indeed more for me.

  8. SATISH BHARDWAJ Tuesday, November 1, 2005

    People get what they ask for. If you just subscribe to feeds without regard to subjects and then blame RSS for the feeds you get it is the subscriber that must get blamed. Not the Feed. If you subscribe to a feed, based on the subject you understand, you should be willing to change your thinking if the feed questions your thinking, instead of blaming the feed. The feed is meant to spread the thoughts of various people on the subject. You can’t blame a feed if your thoughts are totally different from the thoughts of a feed.

    The feeds don’t distribyte the thoughts that they are meant to distribute. They distribute according to how they think the thoughts will be received. If the thoughts are not deemed to be received well not many publishers will carry the feeds.

    For example if the feed relates to the application of wi-fi hotspots to the cellphone calls all the feeds will carry it. If the feed relates to the development of a new method of surfing of the web as is discussed at


    only a few feeds will carry it.

    But you can’t blame a feed for carrying the most popular thoughts if you deem these thought to be junk. You must protest the plicy of the feed and strive to get the feed publisher to change its policy.

  9. SATISH BHARDWAJ Tuesday, November 1, 2005

    I just noticed the Comments of Om Malik on gthe Comments by Jeff. I disagree about Om Malik about how hard one has to work to express his thoughts. Whether the thoughts have any merit will not depend upon how hard the man worked to creat the thoughts. It will only depend upon whether the thoughts are in tune with the present thinking. If the thoughts are not in tune with the present thinking it does not mean that the thoughts are not valid. Presently the thinking is VoIP and Wi-Fi. If you do anything to promote these two thinkings you’ll not have to work very hard to promote these thoughts at all. If you work to questiom these thoughyts it’ll make no difference as to hw hard you work. You’ll have little sucess if any.

  10. Srijith, I agree. If Om served up nothing but snacks, his personal brand (to borrow Vivek’s term) would start to look more like Burger King than the fine Sushi(?) dining. That being said, sometimes I just want an order of rolls, and I don’t want them from the mall sushi stand. I think a well balanced “menu” containing snacks and meals (wow this analogy goes far!) is key to a quality personal brand.

    If there were a way to quickly glean the density of a post before actually starting to read it, I could allocate my reading time and attention better. As it stands now, quite a bit of my time is dedicated to browsing for the appropriately dense article for the amount of free time I have.

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