FeedDemon, RSS, and Degrees of Connectedness

When I joined Digital Equipment Corporation after my undergraduate engineering degree many (many) years ago, I was puzzled at the way people seemingly knew implicitly when and where to go for stuff.

There would, for example, be a meeting, and everyone but me would know. I could have taken it personally — maybe I was being excluded — but there were other recent hires who felt the same way. It wasn’t just me, and it wasn’t just meetings. There would be discussions “elsewhere” on a topic, and everyone but me would be able to continue the discussion from the middle. People just seemed to know stuff in realtime that I didn’t know.

The culprit, of course, was email. This was the late 1980s and email hadn’t yet entered the business zeitgeist, so the idea that people were communicating constantly below the surface of public conversation was new, at least to me. I wasn’t part of the email culture yet, and I wasn’t on all the right internal mailing lists yet, and so, despite being in the office every day, it was as if I wasn’t really connected to my own workplace.

It has only gotten worse/better since, with email, instant messaging, and the web providing that sense of presence to varying degrees. Each of these technologies allows connectedness to a broader community that would otherwise be invisible, passing by like deep water.

Syndicated feeds introduce a new and higher degree of connectedness and presence. It is at a different order than email, contextually richer and more informationally dense, and different altogether from instant messaging. Yes, this large community talks simultaneously at and past once another, and you either like that or you don’t. And yes, sometimes that becomes silly and doesn’t work — unsourced editorials, as, I think, Howell Raines recently called this stuff. 

Anyway, I was reminded of all of this by an innocuous post about Nick Bradbury’s excellent FeedDemon aggregator:

FeedDemon entered my life several months ago and has radically changed the way I think about the web, how I communicate, and my very conception of what it means to be connected.

Related posts:

  1. Disposable email

Comments

  1. Ken Schafer says:

    Hey Paul,
    Great post.
    As my post that inspired your post indicated, I love FeedDemon. I do feel that I’m far more in the loop now, much like your DEC example. I have this sense that much of the conversation I previously missed is now made visible by feeds.
    The other side of the coin is Technorati and Feedster. I found your post through a Technorati feed that searches for links to my site. Feedster found Nick Bradbury’s link for me and delivered it through a feed of mentions of my name.
    My guess is you and Nick have similar searches set up.
    So via feeds, FeedDemon, Technorati, and Feedster you, Nick and myself have managed to have this little conversation with little effort on anyone’s part.
    And anyone NOT interested in FeedDemon (or me) is most likely completely oblivious to this little conversation in the stream of information flowing through the Net.

  2. …and a Feedster channel in FeedDemon is how I found both Ken’s and Paul’s posts :)

  3. check out PubSub’s URI feature.
    It will update an RSS feed every time somebody links to anywhere in your desired site unlike Technorati which (AFAIK) only tracks links to a particular URL at a time
    …Roland (satisfied PubSub user but not an investor!)