Thursday, April 12, 2007

Bloglines and the Information Waterworks

Not too long ago, a fellow blogger wondered about how I was generating so much content. Obviously, he doesn’t get around to as many blogs as I do or he would have pointed a finger elsewhere...but maybe that’s the point.

He had a couple of theories that I am somewhat reluctantly republishing here:

  • you are a white-collar criminal serving time for securities fraud, writing from prison
  • you are a real-life Rain Man savant, writing from a mental hospital, "defi-defini-defi-defi-No Deal Howie..."
  • you are a secret Wikipedia project: you're not a single person, but a collective of anonymous contributors writer under a common pseudonym
  • you're a speed-freak plagiarist, frantically copying and pasting from sources I've just haven't got around to reading
  • you're a Vatican finance old-timer with a terminal illness, cramming for sainthood

Before I talk a little about my process, let me officially respond to his list of possible explanations.

I am not (yet) in prison for securities fraud, never was a fan of Wapner, do not believe in the wikiBorg, and have long since parted ways with the Vatican. On the other hand, I have always believed that KMart sucks, have an unusual talent for doing complex math gymnastics in my head, and confess to a minor linking fetish. I am also somewhat binary, believing that it is better to do something 100% or not do it at all. Putting in 50% effort is usually a waste of my time. It helps that this subject (VIX and sentiment) is new to me and brings a freshness and passion that I would not get rehashing some of my well-trodden investment paths. I do like to write -- and I haven't done much more than PowerPoint bullet points for the past decade or so.

Back to the process…

Ironically, one of the reasons for my starting a blog was to have a convenient place to find all my favorite links., while an interesting tool, just never captivated me. The “Blogs I Read” section of my blog has gone through several iterations. Originally it was a list of sites that I found had information that was most valuable to my trading. As time wore on, it evolved to include mainly blogs that update their content at least once per day and gave me some good insight into specific areas of interest (e.g., options, energy, market sentiment, etc.) I capped my list of favorites at 32 only because that is the number that fits neatly on to the screen of my primary monitor. The problem was that some of the most treasured content was being updated on an irregular basis and I was having an internal debate about how to allocate those 32 slots to content that was refreshed regularly and therefore sometimes had a shorter mental gestation period versus some of the gems that seemed to sprout occasionally from those who post only once or twice a week. Well, I was damned if I was going to have my full blogroll require any scrolling and yet the dilemma of regular content and irregular gems (along with the many 'dry holes' when I click on the links) was making me reconsider the entire venture.

Long-time bloggers and RSS/Atom aficionados are probably scratching their heads wondering why I didn’t just subscribe to feeds to solve my problem. Well, while I may have been an alpha geek in 1989, I haven’t been nearly as techno-savvy over the past few years, so I dragged my feet.

The solution turned out to be Bloglines. I must say that Bloglines has enhanced my enjoyment of the web more than any other application than I can recall using this decade. For those who are still unfamiliar with subscribing to feeds or for those who already have feeds and are looking to optimize your experience, the two obvious options are Bloglines and Google Reader. For what it is worth, I went from constantly clicking on 32 web sites that were usually not updated to getting all new content on one page, with all photos, charts, etc. Now I spend less than half the time I used to in this process, capture the feeds of over 100 web sites, and never have to worry about missing out on the gems. I urge you to try both products and decide which one works better for you.

Some links to get you started:


Fontimama said...

LOL, very interesting. I use Google Reader and it indeed is fantastic in delivering posts so I don't have to visit so many sites. I started my blog as a personal trading diary but it has evolved into a sharing group, mainly because trade ideas do not seem to last 1 day, too much ups and downs! e.g. today I stayed out all day as my signals were not in synch with the markets. When in doubt, stay out...

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