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Signal to Noise

Jon Rentzsch writes about the signal to noise ratio found on blogs. He links to one of my older OneWord entries, in fact, which starts out using the one word "specific" in the sentence "I have nothing specific to say." This he considers noise. So did I, which is why I later stopped doing the OneWords.

OneWords were originally intended as a writing exercise but they quickly annoyed me (and others). Some readers feel the same about my Questions of the Day, while others like them. They exist not because readers care for (or not) them, but because I care for them.

One man's trash is another's treasure. The blog world has long held the debate over "do your readers really matter?" Clearly they do to business- or discussion-oriented blogs, but my own blog remains a rather personal creature. My QotDs link to specific moments in my life that I may not have the time (or inclination) to blog, and thus serve a purpose to me. Plus, they prompt me to blog at least once per day, reinforcing a habit (like finding a gym partner to drag you to the gym on your bad days, lest you break the pattern).

At any rate, that discussion will rage on. If my own signal to noise ratio is too high, I imagine Jonathan will unsubscribe. That's fine, but it's hardly ideal. Jonathan needs a better aggregator. He needs one which can filter out posts with "OneWord" or "QotD" in the title. His "robot aggregator" needs an upgrade. My QotDs aren't going to entertain, enlighten, or engage people like Rentzsch, but a filter can get them out of his way.

This "better aggregator" is one we're trying to realize through PulpFiction. I too agree that signal to noise ratios are important, but I also don't want to miss out on that one important post among a see of QuickLink posts (my personal top "noise" type of entry). I don't want 500 iTunes songs crowding out posts from Rentzsch. I don't even want MacMinute entries crowding out posts from Rentzsch. Instead, he's sorted by label to a certain folder with John Gruber and others.

What's your signal to noise ratio? Mine used to be quite low: I never wanted to miss a good nugget. Since I began filtering my feeds, it's rather high: I don't have to worry about missing the good entries as often.