I confess, I’m an information junkie. Left to my own devices I would spend my life researching and reading about the things that interest me. The wonder of the Internet is that I can do this from the comfort of my own home thanks to my computer and the Internet. For instance, I have always had a fascination with the history of baseball and like to dabble in researching some arcane aspect of it. In the past, if I wanted to read newspaper and magazine accounts from the period I was researching I would have to visit a library and crank up the microfilm machine. Now many of these sources – both still publishing and deceased – can be found on the web.
Google Reader is excellent for managing your subscriptions with RSS. Google Reader makes it easy to subscribe to a site, to see what’s new, and to read previously unread items. Sometimes that works for me; other times I might prefer picking through a list of titles for what I want or having articles flow by one-by-one.
I commented on that post that “I am constantly battling information overdose and RSS feeds are the hypodermic needle that delivers my fix.” It’s true. I am constantly battling to maintain some control over my feeds. Constantly having to reluctantly pick and choose who I might read. At the present I have more than 90 different subscriptions just for educational feeds. I have a separate RSS reader for general feeds that number more than 40 feeds. What can I say, I’m a collector. Can I read them all every day? No, at best I can only glance at their titles.
Which got me thinking about my previous career path as a newspaper journalist. One of the hardest tasks for an editor is to write an attention grabbing headline. With the amount of news slotted into a daily newspaper or a weekly news magazine articles are constantly jostling for your attention, and their means of doing so was with headlines, those big bold titles made up of three or four words. They are like carnival sideshow barkers competing to grab your attention.
Now, with the Internet and social media giving everyone the capability to be journalists the competition for attention is getting even tougher. We all need to learn how to write headlines. Think of the occasions we write headlines:
- Every time we complete an email subject line
- Posting a blog entry
- Creation of a wiki entry
Each time we are fighting to grab our readers’ attention. Yet, I think little thought is given to what we name them especially email subject lines. As a result nuggets of important information gets missed because its just one drop in the spray of water from a fire hose.