I presently have 178 feeds in NetNewsWire. About 80 of those are in a disorganized soup that I wade through only as time permits. That still leaves almost a hundred that have been deemed worthwhile and I aggregate for regular reading in subject groups that have evolved over time (Friends, St. Louis, Geek, Society, Apple, Tech, Comics). On top of this, I receive dozens of emails and IMs daily from friends and colleagues pointing me to additional information sources.
I now consume vastly increased volumes of ideas and news bits, compared to the old days of regular visits to Slashdot, The Server Side, and Kuro5hin. This is particularly noticeable in the Geek sphere of software architecture, design, methodologies, and such. I’m left with the impression that the memeosphere is evolving much more rapidly than before, as I learn about AOP and IOC, follow debates about exception handling and continuations, and learn about exciting projects at an incredible pace. The effect is similar to the experience of first discovering Usenet in 1988: I am overwhelmed at the scope of human knowledge, and will be lucky to merely navigate a path without getting lost, with no hope of exploring or even mapping everything. Yet, I am driven by some child-like drive to learn as much as possible.
There is a danger of becoming mere consumer of it all, and never finishing any of my own thoughts before something else pops up worth my attention. To prevent this, I have to take some time out. The coffee shop closest to me does not have WiFi yet, so walking over with a PowerBook and sitting down with no TCP/IP-induced temptations forces some offline thinking.
My favorite school of dream theory posits that sleep is necessary for our brain to take some time off from the relentless flow of sensory input so it can sort through the patterns it’s collected through the day and catch up on integrating them with long term structures. In the age of the Internet, I need to unplug and dream occasionally.