RSS and knowledge

October 23rd, 2003 Comments Off on RSS and knowledge

It’s amusing how much dependent on certain technologies we become. We get used to having a given resource available to use anytime, and when we lose access to it, even temporarily, we realize we need or value it more than we thought possible. I experienced this recently with regards to RSS and aggregation.

One of my daily activities, which I perform unfailing everyday when I arrive in my working place, is to read the news and posts gathered by my aggregator from the sites to which I’m subscribed. When I changed jobs recently, this routine was interrupted for a few days, while I got settled in my new job. As a result, I felt myself completed out of touch with the world. And, in a certain way, I was out of touch with it, since I aggregate not only blogs, but news agencies as well. Even my daily intake of news about what is going on in the world was disturbed.

I found interesting to realize how much of my knowledge and daily updating are concentrated on a single tool. Granted, I have many other sources of information outside of the Web, but much of what I need and learn everyday comes to me via RSS. However trivial many blog posts seem, most times they lead me or contribute to lead me to other places where information — and quality information — can be found. And, in truth, trivial posts are but a minority of the posts I see everyday. Even sites with clear personal purposes can contain a wealth of knowledge unheard of before — mainly because they aggregate current and practical knowledge.

As much as people criticize the effect blogs are having on other important pieces of Web infrastructure — notably Google — the fact remains that blogs have become a indispensable tool in and of themselves. Even though the percentage of personal blogs, with a sole purpose of informing family and friends about what is going on in the life of their authors, is vastly superior to that of blogs with defined focus and purpose in the areas of interest of a given person, the information generated daily by those latter, be it direct or indirect, easily exceeds the capacity of absorption of any person.

Those days without RSS made me noticed how much this technology is an essential part of my process of growing professionally — and, in a certain way, personally as well. It always interesting to see how the simplest things can have the greatest impact on our lives.

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