December 19, 2004
Phil Wolfe Comment
From the previous post.
Just a note about the use case.
Mary's power use may be leading edge, but it is well within scope. If you spend hours of each workday online or at your laptop, then any RSS client becomes integral. It replaces bookmarks. It replaces addressbook entries. It replaces listerv archives. It becomes the place you look for your own blog posts, a backup brain. To pick up threads of conversation. To detect trends and be a little smarter. The place to find contact info, places to go, things to do.
About the assumptions: disk is cheap (comparatively) so there's no cost to adding feeds and saving posts. Six months after I started adding feeds, I had 500. Six months later, more than a thousand. Ask Scoble how many he has these days. With time, and exploding feed availability, it will be nothing to pick up 20-100 a day. That's thousands a year, hundreds of thousands of posts before you know it. All reflecting your social and reading and writing behavior, your interests and values.
Quite an asset, unique in all the world. And personal. (Something you might be upset about losing.)
So don't scold Mary for pushing the envelope and holding the lovely developers accountable. It's in all of our interests. Because someday sooner than later, we'll all be in her shoes.
Note these follow ups to this post, that though unrelated to the post topic, didn't appear in trackbacks:
to this trackback: Backup Brain
Posted by Mary Hodder at December 19, 2004 07:14 AM
being someone who studies blogging academically, this raises a few questions:
- What do you do with blogs, etc. that don't publish feeds or publish partial posts to their feeds?
- How much is the use of your reader reading and how much is it searching?
- I've always wondered why some people had reading lists (to distinguish from publicly-displayed blogrolls) with more than 100 blogs. Certainly, they must have a hard time keeping up with all that reading! Phil's comment above lends me to ask: So it's not as if you read all of the blogs on your reading list, but you read some regularly and just keep the rest around as "data", right? (for whatever purpose you may use it for as a power-blogger)
- What causes you to move a blog from your "regular reading" list to the "just saving for data" list? If you don't distinguish between these categories, how to you manage to read all those damn blogs? Do you do an implicit categorization / prioritization (that is, skip over the NYT's front page, 'cause you know a story will come through other blogs with commentary)?
Really, what's the point? 1000 feeds!? You're obviously not reading 1,000 feeds worth of posts everyday, so you're just downloading them for (a) fun? (b) research? (c) to bog down as many servers as possible so you can be proud of the large amount of feeds you subscribe to (and reload every hour?)??
I just don't understand people sometimes... RSS wasn't meant for people to just download as much sh*t as possible to their computer and keep it all organized. You need something far more powerful for that. Like Google.
News articles always exist in archives, and have for 100 years. Be more selective with your feeds and stop hogging the servers' bandwidth. There's few people who have a legitimate reason for use of 1,000 feeds. Few. Very few. That's just abuse of the technology.
I hope my original comment about the common RSS "use case" didn't come across as a scolding.
Phil's right that we should (and I do) support Mary's wish to have RSS reader software work for her the way she wants to use it.
But, this wish is different than assuming or expecting that software features that might be commonly dependable in the future should have been so yesterday. (So, that's specifically in regards to Phil's comment.)
The main point about the RSS use case is that, it's important to fact-check any assumptions one may have about what RSS readers are really built to do well.
This is because, in particular, there is a lot of enthusiasm around RSS and what it does (as Phil's comment shows!). And, along with that enthusiasm comes wishful thinking and tolerance for things that don't work too well, but folks are positive about (and even endorse) because they suggest better things to come.
As a somewhat tangental analogy, I've seen several companies buy $100k+ software products that completely failed to meet their core needs. They bought those things based on enthusiasm within their "echo chamber" of decision making, where enthusiastic voices drowned-out more skeptical ones.