Fabian Holzer

Content - fast and slow

Being a employed in some kind of role that could be classified as knowledge work implies a necessity stay on top of things. And the channels of today create a current of content in which it's hard not to drown in. That hardly is a surprise, when thousands of intelligent, highly-paid peoples' personal incomes are tied to how long you stay on a platform, how much you engage and how many ads you consume. Those platforms are products which - by design, not by coincidence - resemble a slot machine. They want to capture and keep their users' attention systems. And the creators of such platforms don't have to account for the detrimental effects on your ability to concentrate, focus and learn.

The polar opposite of these walled gardens are the many websites (mostly still operated by individuals) that still offer to subscribe to their content via a feed. Feeds empower the readers by decoupling the content consumption from the platform. No algorithm orders it for you, just a simple timeline. And a much slower one for that.

I have roughly the same number of feeds in my feed reader as I follow people on Twitter. Yet, I refresh the former manually once a day and have maybe a dozen articles in the inbox, spending a mere five minutes on the latter I'm being nudges to refresh and see more than fifty new items. Sure, your mileage may vary and the the plural of anecdote isn't data - but that's roughly a three orders of magnitude difference in items that are presented.

With regard to that, I overhauled my own RSS feed. While the first solution was a fine exercise in Satisficing, it had limits. It only delivered the last five articles to new subscribers and didn't serve the full content. The new one does all that and doesn't depend on a third party to create it.