I’ve been doing a similar purge lately, also due to a change in usage. Recently I started using Yahoo messenger for work and I now get an icon alert every time I get Yahoo mail. This is actually good in some ways because I don’t have to obsessively check it for long periods of time. However, it’s also made it much more obvious when I receive some peripheral mailing list or other crap mail. So, I’ve been actively disengaging from as much marginally useful stuff as possible and pushing more to folders with filters.
I’ve been tuning my RSS feeds too. I typically take a pass through my feeds once a day but rarely make it all the way through, so I’ve been resorting things such that most personal / important feeds are at the top so that I can very quickly read what is most important, then I read till I get bored or run out of time.
Hmmm…when will there be a guardian angel app out there that can observe what I do and don’t read and automatically alert and order things based on my history. Why can’t we make Bayesian filtering work for us to find what we want to read as well as telling us what we don’t want to read?
Actually, there is a great podcast on this from a while back by Linda Stone (formerly of Microsoft and Apple). She breaks down the recent history of attention and says that we are moving into a new phase of filtering and a new focus on attention. For the last 15-20 years we’ve been opening the firehoses and drinking from the great wash of email, web pages, RSS feeds, podcasts, etc. But it’s too much – the smart money right now is on those companies that can help us attend to only the specific things that we actually want, and ignore the rest.