"From your 159 subscriptions, over the last 30 days you read 21,781 items".
The above message was shown to me when I clicked through to Google Trends within my Google RSS feed reader, appropriately called Google Reader. It tells me I'm subscribed to 159 news sources, blogs, Web sites and so on, and that I've read 21,781 different articles in total over the last 30 days. Every one of these Web sites is tech related. They vary vastly on topic, but the collection gives me a constant influx of information, insights, breaking news, quick event coverage, live blogging updates and product reviews each day.
It takes me about two hours each morning to go through all the new items that have been posted since I left the computer the previous evening. I'm then checking in on new items throughout the day, and spending about two hours in the evening reading the ones left over, as well as the most recent ones posted.
I remember writing a blog entry about RSS feeds in 2004. Back then I used 'Bloglines' to manage around 45 feeds. Over two years it's grown to its current number. At one point in late 2006, the total count went over 200 thanks to science Web sites and research journals, but I cut them out in favour of sites like New Scientist, and kept my reading more focused on technology, the tech world and tech-centred news.
I've been asked why many times, especially here at CNET.co.uk (hence writing this article). The simple answer is that I want to know everything, but that makes it sound like a chore. It's much more than that since I enjoy it so much. I'm also a very fast reader and utilise most of Google Reader's many keyboard shortcuts. The key is to lock on to certain keywords and certain titles. It's also important to know which sites are generally more interesting than others. This gives you the advantage of knowing how much attention is needed for the feed you're about to read. Over months and months of hourly use every day I've found it has become incredibly simple.
My final word on this is to ask you to think of one of those 'Magic Eye' pictures (the ones that require you to focus on a complex image in order to eventually see a 3D shape). To me, the total amount of information I go through is the 2D image you're initially given. With practice, seeing the 3D image -- the interesting part -- becomes natural and just pops out to grab you immediately. This is how I attack such a huge volume of information.
Incidentally, I find music crucial to absorb everything. Some good sound-isolating headphones will block out audible distractions such as talking, and the music becomes a consistent and balanced background noise you can ignore safely, but still enjoy. It requires different parts of the brain to process and the two don't interfere with each other. As a life-long musician and an obsessive technology whore, this scenario is blissful.