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news and thoughts on and around the development of the iCite net
by Jay Fienberg

Aggregators not on my time

posted: May 25, 2005 8:57:38 PM

I have some posts I think I might get up here sooner than later that are somewhat philosophical about how I relate to the web. But, I thought I'd just describe how I "keep up" with things, since I no longer use an RSS/Atom reader.

Basically, I periodically go to the sites I like to read. I have a bunch bookmarked, a bunch in my blogroll, and a bunch I know are listed in other sites' blogrolls. I try to add new sites into the mix each week.

There are many sites that I like a lot, but only go to when another site I'm reading happens to be linking to them in some context that is interesting to me. (You can regularly find links to some sites from others, e.g., I regularly link to David Czarnecki's blog, and you can assume that, when you come to my site, you'll probably find a link to his site that you can follow).

Altogether, I put no obligation on myself (e.g., no "subscription" made explicit in software) to look at these sites or keep up with what's happening on them. I just periodically get curious to visit, or come across them in some context, and then I explore the sites when I get there.

A lot of the sites I look at are blog-like in that they have some page that allows me to pretty quickly see new things (e.g., newest things at the top). I like these pages and use them.

As an example, I've met Chris Prillo here in Seattle, and his blog is one that I like. So, every few days or weeks, I click to his blog from my blogroll and super quickly scan the page for things I'm interested in, the details of which I then scan and/or read closely.

For whatever is not of interest, I put no obligation on myself to delete, mark as read, click anything, or otherwise think much about it. But, very importantly to me, I do feel like I'm getting more context for what I'm looking at, i.e., the context of the site itself, what I'm interested in, what I'm not interested in, a sense of timeline and space (visual sense of word count), word usage (suggesting topics), etc.

For example, I always enjoy reading the quote in the right-hand column on Rebecca Blood's blog. Even if she doesn't have a new post when I go there, I get to see the quote—which I tend to enjoy both when it's still the same quote, and when it's a new one. The quote and other items in the right column suggest to me a lot about what's new from Rebecca's view—the posts alone don't convey as much.

Similarly, with Lee LeFever's right column of photos on his Common Craft blog. I don't have the obligation of a subscription to his photos, or his posts, or of his posts and photos combined.

But, I like going to his site and seeing his posts on the left, and his photos on the right. And, I like looking back on it over whatever time-span I need to (which, is limited to however long the blog goes back on the home page—but it's generally a long enough span of time for me feel like I'm not only "getting caught up", but getting some perspective on what's happening with Lee / Common Craft).

Anyway, I've said here a number of times that I see RSS-type feeds as basically inventing a certain kind of time on the web (e.g., my post on Public time). What I've described here, I hope, suggests a different kind of time available to us. And, in my upcoming posts, I hope to get more into my views about time and the web, and how web-time and web-space provides a context for projects like the iCite net.

(Also, along with some good uses I do find in current RSS-type feeds, applying other models of web space/time, I see many different concepts for "feeds" that I'm looking to explore through the iCite net project.)

Anyway, should I mention to you that I read and like your site, know that I actually come to your site to read it, and look at more than just the latest "news".

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