On the destructive/constructive nature of news aggregation
Playing with a range of news aggregators once more, since Radio UserLand is making me itchy again. Pretty much the only ones I really like are Radio, AmphetaDesk, and sometimes Peerkat.
For the last week or so I've been mostly alternating between Radio and AmphetaDesk. The difference in aggregation styles is interesting: While Radio slices and dices and aggregates feeds by items and serves them up to me in an interwoven chronological order, AmphetaDesk serves my feeds up to me whole and in order of feed modification. I'm not sure which I like more now.
I like Radio's style, because I see what's new and only what's new. Usually. But, I like AmphetaDesk's style because I see everything, and have realized that I miss things with the rush of new items from all my feeds. For instance, if someone posts something once per day, I'll likely miss it with Radio unless I check every hour. But, with AmphetaDesk, I get to see what's new with every person or source whenever I check, and I only miss items if that feed has scrolled them off.
Shelley Powers of burningbird.net wrote a bit about the context destroying nature that RSS and aggregators have on weblogs. I agree with her somewhat, in that pulling the words out of the surrounding context of the blog and its presentation and community has an altering effect, I wouldn't say that it destroys the weblog.
For me, when I see something on my news aggregator, it's as if I'm overhearing it from another room. I don't get the whole context or see who else is listening or responding, but I hear the gist of something. And, when subscribed to 100+ RSS feeds, it's like I'm floating in this Nth dimensional space where I can overhear voices from hundreds of rooms without being overwhelmed. When something triggers some of my mental filters and watchwords, I click the link and delve deeper.
There's no way, without an aggregator, that I'd be able to track 100+ people and news sources in a day. But, because I can, I've been able to learn and discover things and hear voices I never would have before.
But, I think the way AmphetaDesk merges these sources might be a nicer alternative. By not chopping up the feeds, some intra-item context is maintained at least, so I can see developing trains of thought.
Okay, must go back to work now.