Sifting through garbage.

SpeakingFreely which is a GREAT blog posted yesterday on something I’ve been meaning to talk about.

I’ve been really busy lately, so I had to find a way to gain some more time. So I started by eliminating feeds from my RSS reader. What did I cut?

Every feed that regurgitates news, comments on news, has nothing but opinion on news, etc. There’s simply no reason to hit 3 fora and 30-300 blogs all letting me know that Terry Semel is no longer the CEO of Yahoo.

He is exactly right. Whenever I find myself marking “All as Read” on Google Reader more than a few days in a row, i immediately unsubscribe from the feed. Your reader is supposed to be a means to a more efficient internet, one that tolerates little waste and puts the power in your hands. What seems to have really happened is that with the imposition being so little, people are just accepting garbage posts. As you move down the Long Tail and down the newsroom hierarchy, the simple reporting of news has less and less value. I lost count of how many awful and uninformative posts I read about the Facebook Platform or Semel stepping down. And you know, thank God Steve Rubel wrote about the iPhone, otherwise I would have had NO idea it was coming out.

The point is this: Your time is valuable, don’t let people waste it. Robert Scoble brags about reading 600 blogs a day. That doesn’t make him smart, it makes him an idiot. I haven’t found 600 good websites on the entire internet–and my job is to sit at a computer all day and look. If a feed starts getting redundant and derivative, unsubscribe. How else will they know that users are finding their content less than satisfactory? Only when they see the numbers decline will they bother to do anything about it.

And writers: Blogs rose to prominence not for their ability to break news but to provide more detail and more perspective. What good are you doing if you turn my reader into a nerdy AP Wire? If you can’t ADD to the discussion, just sit back and listen. Not every story needs to be commented on by everybody.

UPDATE: Robert Scoble has a good enough sense of humor that he ended up linking to yesterday’s post and dropping me a comment. But one person took issue with my comment that there aren’t 600 good blogs on the internet. I’d like to make a clarification: I don’t think there are 600 good sites on the entire internet. Blogs are just a subset.

But this illuminates a very real opportunity for exploitation–both the reality and the delusion. First, good content is INCREDIBLY rare. Think of all the sites you read, how many of them actually produce what you read? Most of them are just portals to the people who are the real producers. At this point, almost all the A-list, high traffic bloggers have been done book deal. They all failed for good reason: They have very little to offer. They couldn’t expand their stories, delve into issues they’d only scratch the surface of. The idea that the internet is any less susceptible to the woes of Hollywood is ridiculous. It’s not so much that we have a system or a platform problem–we have a people problem. The wrong people are gatekeepers, the wrong people are creating, the wrong people are marketing and the rest of us simply have to accept it. So just like I can’t think of 600 good sites, I can’t think of 600 GREAT movies or 60 current great musicians. The opportunity then–as it always has been–is original and passionate art. Now, the mantra of “just have good content” is too easily tossed around but that doesn’t make it untrue. The problem is no one takes it seriously, no one really tries. But the idea that we can replace Hollywood megalomaniacs with Silicon Valley dorks isn’t going to cut it.

Two, people are so desperate to consume content that they’re willing to accept up to 600 sites a day. That means there is a ton of opportunity, and being talented makes you a commodity. So what you have is a massive market and no one is serving it. The latent demand for quality is there but the people who can satiate it have fallen down on the job.

But you tell me: Is there anywhere near 600 blogs worth reading on a daily basis? I have a solid 150 and maybe–and I mean maybe–6-10 posts a day do I find myself glad I to have read. If so, where are they hiding? And why is Scoble the only one who seems to have tracked them down?

Written by Ryan Holiday
Ryan Holiday is the bestselling author of Trust Me, I’m Lying, The Obstacle Is The Way, Ego Is The Enemy, and other books about marketing, culture, and the human condition. His work has been translated into thirty languages and has appeared everywhere from the Columbia Journalism Review to Fast Company. His company, Brass Check, has advised companies such as Google, TASER, and Complex, as well as Grammy Award winning musicians and some of the biggest authors in the world. He lives in Austin, Texas.