Archive for August, 2011

Crowdsourcing my RSS feed

Last week I ranted about how much media I was consuming (or at least wading through) as opposed to writing.  Part of that was the 436 RSS feeds I had in Google Reader.

As of this morning, I have 93 feeds. And the quality of what I’m seeing is higher.

I’m implementing a suggestion from one of the smartest people in my life. I’m crowd sourcing my RSS feed.

I did this by removing most of the source news sites themselves, and keeping (and adding) individuals. I’ve dropped everything from Pharyngula to Gizmodo, Engadget to Ars Technica.  Goodbye NYT and CNN. I don’t need you anymore, at least not as RSS feeds.

You know why? Because there are a lot of smart people out there who read your content. Each individual doesn’t read all your content, every day, but enough of them see some portion of your content, and are moved to write about it (on their blogs) or  “share” it themselves in Reader. By following those individuals one way or another, I get the best of your content, without wading through everything.

I’m giving these individuals editorial control of my daily news, instead of each of you. Why? Because they are interested in sharing what they think is the most important, or funny or interesting content each day. They don’t care how many hits you get, or your ad revenue. They care about sharing what they think is the very best of the Internet. They’re willing to attach their identity to their opinions about what is “good” and make recommendations about your content.

But this is a two-way street. I’m more careful, more targeted, more thoughtful about what I share. I don’t want to pollute your RSS feed (if you’re following me) with too much low quality dross to wade through.

So, what have I kept, or added to my own RSS feed reader?

I’ve kept all the LOPSA Member Blogs; individuals writing about the things they are most passionate about, especially system and network administration. I’ve kept a few specific humor sites that I enjoy, but I don’t even try to read everything, everyday. I’ve kept quite a few blogs by individuals on topics that I enjoy: computer security, system administration, writing, film noir, brewing, etc. I’ve kept all the blogs by the people in my life, friends and family.

I’m continuing to seek out individuals that post interesting things and follow them as individuals, to see what they’re writing, reading (and recommending).

I still have more source sites to prune, and more individuals to add, but this has already made a huge difference in my daily news reading. I made it through my entire RSS feed list in less than an hour Sunday morning, even though I hadn’t read anything for at least four days.

I no longer dread opening my Reader feed and seeing “everything that I’m going to miss”. I’m trusting that you will all find the best of the stories  and bring them to my attention.

Thanks for reading teh Intarwebs for me, and sharing the very best. I’ll try to do the same for you.




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Where Wizards Stay Up Late (Book Review)

Here’s one from the Archives.  This is a book review I wrote back in 1996. While the review itself is a little dated, the book itself has stood the test of time. It is still one of the best histories of the beginning of the Internet.

Where Wizards Stay Up Late: The Origins of the Internet by Katie Hafner and Matthew Lyon

The Internet has erupted onto the scene of mainstream consciousness in just a few short years.  Numerous attempts to “explain” all this technology has lead to a plethora of books purporting to educate “everyman” about the innermost workings of this technology.  Out of this morass of poorly-researched books (and entirely too few good ones) comes something more interesting: a technological history of the Internet’s direct ancestor. Read the rest of this entry »

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The “Usenet trap”, or reading vs. writing

You have all probably noticed that this blog isn’t updated very often.  I’m afraid I’ve fallen into what Vernor Vinge once described to me as the “Usenet trap”.

A long time ago I was fortunate enough to spend time with him on a semi-regular basis, and even shared an office with him for one semester. At that time I asked him if he ever read Usenet News (which tells you how long ago this was), and he said (paraphrasing) “No.  If you are reading, you aren’t writing, and I want to spend more time creating, and not all my time consuming.” At that time he was working on the draft that became “A Fire Upon the Deep.”

I spent some time over the past week, looking at how much time I spent consuming “media” (reading) as opposed to writing (other than work). Read the rest of this entry »

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