Blogruptcy – It’s the metaphor

Matt Cornell has a great blog filled with ideas from his productivity consultancy. Right now he has an interesting debate going on about “Blogruptcy”, an offshoot of the “Email Bankruptcy” concept which suggests a radical extraction from the flood of information in our current age.

Matt wrote about information overload…


This is especially noticeable for RSS feeds, where there’s always more blogs, posts, and ideas. While talking about this with my friend and collaborator Tara Robinson (site, blog, book) she mentioned being ready to commit “blogruptcy,” a phrase with surprisingly few hits. The idea is simple, with steps as inspired by the original Lessig story Declare Email Bankruptcy:
  1. Unsubscribe from all your feeds.
  2. Try going feed-free for one [week | month].
  3. Evaluate: What did you really miss?
  4. Add those back in.
This is a fine practice, and I’m using it right now. It’s very often the case that most of the feeds aren’t crucial to our work/lives, and that we always have more than we need. This is in the general category of going on a media diet [1]. The only problem? It doesn’t work.


Matt went on for a number of paragraphs (including citations!) discussing issues in information overload, and describing workable solutions.

I replied to his post….


It’s the metaphor I believe the metaphor we are all trapped in is one of being out there on the shiny edge of an ever expanding bubble of posts. As content expands we fight to be on the periphery, to be on the immediacy of the expansion, and as that bubble grows the amount of territory we have to cover increases as well, just as the surface area of a sphere grows as it expands. If that is the metaphor, there is no other solution than to check out as we all are suggesting, unless you begin to think differently about the issue of immediacy. I would argue that the most recently written material on a subject is not necessarily the best and that if we think of all the content we are tracking not as on the film of a bubble but as in a pond (lake, sea…) filling over time, the issue becomes where do we fish, not how do we stand before the floodgates. I also think that as intellectual citizens of the blogsphere we serve a greater purpose by knitting together the best material in our metaphorical pond, rather than just re-reporting on the the latest half completed idea. Once you get off the edge of that bubble everything changes. Alright, enough of this. I have to get back and see what I missed in my Reader during the last five minutes. I’m sure it was crucial to something, somehow… Doug



Please stop by Matt’s site. He has a host of information about productivity and deep thinking about the new structures of our modern world. (and you can see his nice and thoughtful reply to my comment, in which he pushed the conversation even further.)

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  1. Posted September 2, 08 at 9:32 pm | Permalink

    I feel time slip away from me as I try to follow all of the blogs I want to follow. The RSS feeds make it so easy, not only for blogs but also for newspapers, magazines and other news sites. But because it is so easy, I end up importing feeds that I can’t possibly read, and then I feel badly that I cannot get to everything I am interested in.

    The bottom line for me is that I have to be ok deleting posts without reading them, even if I risk losing some interesting information. And like Matt said, if I do a lot of deletions and find that I am not really missing anything, I will delete the feed altogether.

    I’m glad to see that your comment sparked further conversation. Thanks for sharing this with us!

  2. Posted September 3, 08 at 12:00 am | Permalink

    Thanks again for your wonderful comment, and for the kind recommendation.

  3. Doug
    Posted September 3, 08 at 6:31 am | Permalink

    Erin: I remember as a kid the first time that I waked into Readers on University Place and bought a copy of the New York Times (for 15 cents I think) and took it with me to school. I thought I was so sophisticated to be reading the paper without the comics (in other words not the Daily News) But I also remember wondering as the day wore on and I had not yet quite finished the first section, how anyone could read the whole thing in one day, every day.

    As Matt and his commenters suggested, the key to the survival of information flow may well be the company you keep. Your personal blogshpere can act as a filter and alerter to key items.

    Matt: And thank you again for the great conversation!

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