An attraction of planet-style blog aggregators as your feed reader

February 20, 2009

I've recently realized an attraction of planet-style blog aggregations: by design, they have no way to go back in the feed history. You get one page of entries (however larger that is configured to be), and that's it.

This sounds like a peculiar thing to be an attraction, but it means that compulsive information junkies with not enough spare time have no choice but to let things go. We cannot wind up sitting on several thousand unread feed entries that we are theoretically going to read sometime; there is not even a temptation to not move on. The software just does it for you.

(The one danger to this approach is that planets themselves have syndication feeds, which do capture all that history, assuming that your feed reader updates frequently enough. Avoid that temptation. Really. Read them through the website.)

For a certain sort of compulsive reader this letting go is very hard, so if we are left to our own power we won't. Reading feeds through a planet, with no choice about it, winds up being peculiarly liberating.

(I was sort of trying to do this with reading backwards, but in practice it didn't work out that way.)

I don't think that I'm hardcore enough to rebuild my feed reading as a private planet instance, but having come to this realization, maybe I should remove a number of planet feeds from my feed reader in favour of just looking at their web versions every so often when (or if) I have the spare time. If nothing else, it would remove a little mental burden and nag that's in the back of my mind when I open up my feed reader.

Comments on this page:

From at 2009-02-20 04:07:13:

Attendant result: more browser bookmarks…

Aristotle Pagaltzis

By cks at 2009-02-20 17:01:19:

I'm not too annoyed by the additional bookmarks or equivalents, because I have to have the planets/feeds in something either way. I don't care too much if that's in my browser instead of in my feed reader.

(In some ways my browser can be more convenient than my feed reader.)

From at 2009-02-20 18:33:49:

I guess I was being too obscure.

What I meant is that an incorrigible infovore will just respond to the lack of an “unread” status in river-of-news aggregators by bookmarking posts in the browser to read them later. I would, anyway…

Aristotle Pagaltzis

By cks at 2009-02-20 20:18:35:

My guess is that it takes too much work to bookmark posts in a river of news setup to make it worthwhile since you have to visit each post, although there are various things that might make it easier.

(And if I do wind up haunting a river of news setup like that I am doing it wrong, and should just switch back to reading whatever it is in a feed reader; it would be simpler.)

Written on 20 February 2009.
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