Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Walking Well-Worn Paths On The Internet

I have noticed a tendency of mine which sort of frustrates me.

The Internet is a large cesspool of information, but I really only dip my toes in a few fetid pools on a daily basis.

These days I rarely visit websites, instead reading their content via an RSS feed. It's very convenient and stream-lined, but it kind of bothers me as well.

I'm not bothered by feeds of the personal blogs I read, as these are usually the thoughts of a single individual that I have chosen to read.

It's the feeds I get that are basically selecting and aggregating content that might be interesting to me that make me feel I am intentionally narrowing down my window to the world. I am bothered by my reliance on sites like BoingBoing and MetaFilter. Granted, I often find about 15-20% of the stories/links they provide or feature of some interest.

But what am I missing? My web surfing behavior has become more passive with my usage of RSS feeds. I'm having all this content pushed downstream by other people, doing less of my own heavy lifting.

How did I used to do it? It seems like a distant memory to me now. I guess when I wanted to learn about a topic, I searched for it, and browsed a few sites for information. I probably spent less time on the web back then.

Now there is a constant stream of content I subscribe to, yet paradoxically I feel like my interaction with the Internet is more restrictive.

It makes me want to sign up with a Welsh message board and start talking about goat farming. Let's talk about goats, baby.


Lockwood said...

Oh man, I couldn't agree more. It's pernicious! And I keep finding blogs I like and signing up for their RSS. Then I feel compelled to try to read (or at least skim over) every single post that comes into my feed. Not only do I feel like I'm loosing touch, but the touch I do have is shallower and more hurried. I don't want to miss anything, so I end up not really savoring much of anything.

Another aspect I feel kind of guilty about is that I often don't actually visit places I like (like yours); I read them in RSS. Unless of course I want to comment.

You make a good point. But I'm an RSS addict. What to do?

Freida Bee said...

Before or after they have transformed to or from human form? (Sorry- I get my news from Yahoo.)