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.
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.