Reinvention

Information is everywhere. Information scarcity is a thing of the past. The problem you will experience now and in the future isn’t a lack of information, but rather an excess of information. Connecting won’t be the issue, so much as disconnecting, saying no, choosing certain things instead of others. The potential cost of all this information may be your time and your sanity, if not managed well.

Google Reader is closing down. In the moment I first discovered this fact I found it quite vexing. A change would be necessary and I wasn’t sure I wanted to change. I don’t know why I cared so much. The truth was it had been a long while since I had really used Google Reader. There were some 1000+ unread items therein and reading blog posts in this fashion had long since become a terrible joyless chore. Particularly ironic was a folder titled “Productivity” which contained some 990+ unread posts. The exchange had become transactional — I would scroll down seemingly never ending lists of posts, or I would hit the ‘mark all as read’ button — and it was no longer serving anyone, certainly not me.

Of course Google was not the culprit. I was. I had added a whole bunch of things to my reading list, things I was genuinely interested in for a time, but these lingered long after I ran out of time and (sometimes) out of interest.

I have been thinking about reinvention a lot lately. I have been watching Madonna concerts on YouTube. I have been watching videos about Impressionism and other art movements. We may think of reinvention as a deliberate conscious act of change, but sometimes it happens less obviously and less consciously. It actually doesn’t matter how ‘willing’ you are to change, over time you will indeed change. The world around you will change too. Everything is in a state of flux.

If you don’t change how you use the tools at your disposal to reflect the you of this moment they won’t continue to work for you. You have to be really honest about what you’re still interested in, and what you continue to do out of habit or social convention. When it comes to reading lists you need to be brutal, you may need to prune quite vigorously. Though you may need to do this on social networks too. Here we might have an additional reticence since some will interpret a defriending or an unfollowing as quite a personal act of rejection. And yet in the same way you have access to obscene amounts of information, you also have endless opportunities for interaction with other people. Some people will be dear friends (for life), others might be casual acquaintances. It is incredibly likely that you will have intense and meaningful moments with other people online that will not outlive their original contexts. I have noticed this particularly in my MOOC course interactions.

If you are too bogged down in your blue period, you may never reach your rose period. You have to make room for new things in your life. As it stands I am now using The Old Reader as my Google Reader replacement and it currently only has four subscriptions in it. Although I enjoyed Google Reader as a tool, I appreciate this opportunity to do a bit of a personal reset.

2 comments… add one
  • I have also been looking for a replacement for reader but I use it daily. Sometimes I get a build up and have to let it all go, but generally I get on top of it once a day. I don’t read every post, but I scan them all. You tube has a big list of watch later.

    Great reflection on changing and use it or lose it.

  • I am compulsive about keeping my inbox empty. I have a social and a work email. When I didn’t check work email for a few months (since I wasn’t working!) then next time I went on, I had 800 emails. None at all relevant. I called tech and they told me how to delete them all at once:) You’re making me think about other social media. I never use LinkedIn and I under-use Goodreads, although I do pop in for at least a book or two a week that I’ve read and liked and I write very casual reviews. But as for Goodreads being a marketing tool. Not for me. Just like, Weight Watchers, I don’t work it and it does not work for me. Twitter. I love Twitter. But I hardly ever hawk my books. I’m more apt to RT or link to a blog post. FB is zero in marketing. I look at pictures of my kids and their dogs and houses. I’ve done nothing on the Amazon Kindle boards except ask how to use things. It might be true that social media can help a writer sell books, but not this writer. So I ask myself, what can I let go? And I come up with nothing. Not one thing. I want to do it all and do it better. Plus watch television and read books and write books and teach a full course load in the fall. I want to cram it all in. And I still love reading blogs!

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