News at 9, 10 and 11

by Francois Joseph de Kermadec

Despite my passion for cutting-edge technologies, I must admit that, up until now, I have been fairly conservative when it comes to gathering information... I had my little bookmarks folder in Safari and, 8 or 10 times a day asked it "open it in tabs". Sure, the news weren't up-to-the minute but, like most simple systems, it always worked well.

Well, a few weeks ago I decided that, as charming as old fashion is I had to get into the RSS movement, so I downloaded a good news reader and filled it with my usual collection of sites -- which, luckily all offered RSS feeds. For fun, I added a few other sources, recommended by various friends and off I went to work.

What was my surprise when I noticed a few minutes later that I had 158 news items to read... That's impossible I thought... There can simply not can be so many news in the Mac world on an ordinary Thursday... Well, there were and I am happy to report that I was kept up-to-date about new cartridges, colored diskettes and Mac-powered golf carts by my faithful application...

All in all, this is a great experience : more news, less consumed bandwidth, and the possibility to be always in the know. I must say that despite my initial (unfounded) fears, I have come to love RSS.

There is however one issue that I cannot seem to overcome : with all this flow of information, picking out what is most important and what is secondary requires more work. This is all possible of course but the learning curve is interesting : it made me realize how much the way I read and memorized information was tied to the place in which I was reading it... When everything arrives formatted in the same way, from the same source, these visual clues I used to rely on are of no help.

All in all, my switch to RSS is a very positive experience and I am looking forward to reading more about this fascinating technology. But it was more than a workflow change for me : it was also an occasion to think about how I processed information and allowed me to see weak links in the chain that I definitely have to look into.

Until next time, dear Mac users, enjoy thinking different!

1 Comments

bob_c
2004-08-15 17:24:49
RSS, love it or not, it's here to stay.
I started requiring my students to configure a reader - NewsMac - at the beginning of the year. It allows them to scan a huge amount of information in just a few min. and pick one or two to read for class every day. The quality of information has gone way up. In my own case, it allows me to keep up on 31 sources on a daily basis. OK, so two or three don't update *that* frequently. The first time I tried Amphetadesk, I knew that it was a technology that would make a fundamental change in my life. I just wish RSS had happened in 1994.