Interesting discussion last night with Delphine Dispa, who was in Paris, on how RSS feeds have changed our way of understanding information, and on the changes in our perception of the information delivered by our aggregator.
Collecting a large number of feeds – sometimes several hundred, 459 in my case, some very verbose – results in more selective reading of the content. The choice to read such or such a post then depends on completely subjective criteria such as the length of the article, and especially its title. Hence the even greater need to endow posts with relevant, precise and catchy titles containing the main keywords summarizing the text to come. Besides being very useful in terms of referencing, this habit also makes it possible not to pass through the sieve of human filtering.
Another way to choose your content is to have it pre-filtered by others.
Despite their extreme verbosity, I get a good number of RSS feeds from Delicious: popular, css, design, html, ruby, webdev… A link and a short description – less than one line – let me know immediately if the attached content is likely to interest me. We could compare this habit to the first weblogs – pre-diarist era – or to linklogs as there are still some.
In the same vein, I am particularly the balls of links of people in whose good taste I have complete confidence, whether it is the “bulk” of Tristan Nitot , the content of the Delicious links of the day of Stphanie Booth included in his general RSS feed, or Utena’s linksluting .
Using a “human aggregator” – the expression is Delphine – in no way amounts to letting others dictate my reading choices. This is simply a first filtering based on trust, affinity or community of interests that eliminates a lot of waste while offering nearly 50% of relevant content that I would not have. found elsewhere.