Thoughts on teaching, technology, learning and life in an era of change.
Those 184 RSS feeds twelve months on
March 15th, 2009

Twelve months ago to the day I wrote the following post….

This morning I read and commented on a post by Will Richardson in which he reflects on the 130 plus comments that one of his earlier posts received. He asked the following questions within his post and I replied as indicated below:

Question: Can anyone really read through 130 comments? Answer: Not all the time.

Question: Are we getting too distracted, too connected, too participatory for our own good? Answer: Yes.

When I began using Netscape I used to bookmark everything. It was all so new. It was like being a collector. An obsessive compulsive disorder. I just had to collect that next bookmark. Those hundreds of bookmarks are on a CD-ROM gathering digital dust.

There are only about a dozen websites that I regularly visit now. That is enough.

But then there is those 184 blogs in my RSS reader. Will the majority of those blog feeds go the same way as my deceased bookmarks? I think so.

That question again: Are we getting too distracted, too connected, too participatory for our own good? Answer: Yes.

I feel that there is a considerable amount of redundancy within the edublogosphere, a consequential reduction in original thought and the growth of an edublogging elite.”

Well, twelve months have passed and I find I that I now have 208 feeds in my reader. I did pare down the number to less than 100 at one stage but the number has crept back up. A number are subscriptions to Delicious bookmarks. I find those to be most useful. I still only regularly visit a select number of web sites. Online newspapers in the main. Will Richardson mentions he received 130 comments on a single post. It would take about 12 months for my entire blog to accumulate that many comments. Oh well. That’s life.

I use NetNewsWire on the Mac to keep track of the feeds I read. I find I can skim through the feeds much more quickly than with Google Reader. I scan through the feed headings and pick out those with the most interesting titles, particularly for those fetched from, for example, Read Write Web and TUAW. Their posts really pile up after a few days. I also apply a similar technique to those bloggers that are prolifically reviewing and linking to educational resources. A quick scan, select a post here and there and mark all the rest as read.

The NetNewsWire application is synced to both NewsGator online and the NetnNewsWire app on my phone. I am able to scan through posts quickly on the phone and any that I wish to follow up I add to Clippings. These turn up on the client on my Mac. Useful.

Twelve months on there is still a great deal of overlap and redundancy in the feeds that I read. Material is being reinterpreted, recycled and reposted. Just as I have done with this post. I feel that the micro-blogging service Twitter has had an impact on blogging. I follow 500+ people on Twitter yet I have not subscribed to all of their blogs. What am I missing out on I sometimes wonder. I even feel guilty about that sometimes. I should not of course. Comes from a Catholic upbringing.

During January and February of this year I rarely scanned through the feeds. Perhaps I missed some great posts yet the sun still rises and sets each day and the edublogosphere continues to rotate on its axis. Not too sure what forms the composition of that axis. That’s a thought.

I focus more upon the blogs composed by those members of my PLN that interact on a regular basis. Feels like the thing to do. Need to reciprocate more frequently.

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One Response to “Those 184 RSS feeds twelve months on”

  1. Tony Searl Says:

    Timely post. I conducted my autumn “feed, follow & blog cull” last weekend for the reasons you articulate.

    I’ve limited my blog roll & RSS feeds (culling twitter follows too), to a select list, especially respected Australian educators, who provide a noise and quality assurance filter for relevant, to me, debates.

    The elite list of “must follows” is a learning furphy and reminds me of sycophantic eduvoyuerism or edugroupyism rather than considered reflective (and individual) thinking.
    Dogs chasing tales(sic) springs to mind.

    There also seems to be a high GI diet of over participation (web2.0 noise for noises sake) versus individual focus on what we do best, learn and teach in classrooms using a full range of quality methods.

    Thats why I won’t tell excellent (traditional) practioneers they MUST engage, it is an attitudinal shift they have to live and experience and apply to their own lives. Sure it frustrates me more teachers don’t engage but those that are provide sufficient inspiration at our place.

    Calling anything “original thinking” is questionable and rare as most debate is remixed perspectives at best. Nothing wrong with that either, providing my filters are also improving. Those who do “create an original thinking box” are inspirational and my inner sanctum top shelf PLN soon lets me know.

    My first, favourite and easiest tool is my delicious network. It is easy to see what shapes their research base underlying a person’s POV and PLN. Click on their tags and hey presto, research is quickly enhanced. Way better & more reliable than boolean Google for finding quality. Found so much more on assessment reform within 10 minutes that I’d never get from twitter, feeds, blogs or google in a year.

    My recently Jenny Craiged Netvibes now has a new “Top 10 2009 PLN” tab. As a blog/feed/axis of doing good earns my repeat visits it gets migrated into that. Works well so far and noise has been reduced. May be missing lots of good stuff but I have found way more that aligns with my 2009 learning goals.

    Reciprocate your axis off John, Watershed in on my PLN inner sanctum.