The murmur of the snarkmatrix…

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The feeds, the blogs, the tweets, the years

You have no doubt seen the Bygone Bureau’s excellent round-up of the best new blogs of 2009 with contributions from everyone Snarkmarket admires. Three notes:

First: All hail Joanne McNeil and her 749 feeds. This is, by the way, the correct use of Google Reader. It’s not an email inbox… it’s baleen.

Second: I like Andy’s mention of Offworld, because it’s a video game blog that did what the very best journalism does: not just track an existing conversation but start a whole new one. Offworld’s focus on indie games and crazy ludology is as much a sustained argument as it is a chronicle.

Third: My favorite new blog of 2009 is… Twitter. It’s remarkable how much it’s changed this year—for me, at least. It went from being a pleasantly random feed of banter to, really, the locus of my internet life. When I open a browser, I fire up Twitter in the first tab—even before Gmail. Wow!


First: Baleen! I love it! Nine year-old me (who loved whales) would be even more thrilled. But I’m also a bit in shock. I’m constantly hovering at 250 and it always threatens to drown me. There’s some skill or approach that I’m missing. I wonder if Joanne has written anything on how she does it in a manner that works for her.

Second: Yes! Wasn’t someone recently talking about how good criticism produces its field? That serious film critics invented film as a discipline because they not only studied it diligently, but approached film ‘as film’?

Third: It is remarkable how much it has changed. What I’ve been enjoying this year is the sense of the local that it produces – this weird, shimmering (invisible) vision of the city I live in that hovers in my imagination as I walk around. In a way, it has become the place I go to see what’s going on in the world. The crazier part? I actually “know” maybe 3 or 4 people on it. The rest are all blogger friends or people who, at least now, no longer fit the term ‘total strangers’.

I have written and scrapped posts about taming the firehose so many times. Because I frankly haven’t tamed it. I just turned off read counts and every now and then close my eyes and mark everything ‘read’.

The place that Google Reader has in my Internet universe is the place that Twitter held 18 months ago; it’s something that could become more useful, if I could get a lot of friends to join (or in the case of Google Reader to share). I really enjoy discovering ephemera through GReader sharing, and when I review my personal aggregated feed on my iPhone, all the news, trash, gossip, design pr0n, bougie commentary is swilled together as one strong cioppino of information.

As for Twitter, it can set sure set off synaptical fires.


I really do think that embracing “mark all as read” is the key. My favorite advice is William Gibson’s. It was at a reading here in SF and if I remember correctly he was specifically talking about RSS readers:

He said it’s like dipping a finger into the zeitgeist. It this river roaring past, and you’re just taking its temperature. The reason to go for scale—to subscribe to 700 feeds, not just 70—is to increase the chance of weird combinations, of unexpected collisions that reveal something new & interesting. To pile it all into your brain and wait for interesting things to happen, not necessarily on the conscious level! Warren Ellis talks about this too: about throwing it all in the brain-pot and letting mysterious things happen.

Like EC says: everything mixed together in one strong cioppino!

My question is: what *are* those 700 feeds? I have 147 feeds currently, but 30 of them are Hulu or PBS TV show feeds, so really, 117 feeds, and I can get through all of them in one day rather quickly. So to “dip my finger into the zeitgeist,” where should I start? I already thought my 100+ feeds was everything I could possibly be interested in.

Also, do you guys use keyboard shortcuts? You know, “j” for next, “k” for previous? Just keep tapping them quickly while skimming the headlines, then press “v” to open those that you wanna read later in a tab

I subscribe to a crapload of feeds as well, but I still have the fear, the fear of missing anything.

I stopped paying much attention to twitter when I found It’s still smaller and more intimate, and it is architected RIGHT. What you get is a beautiful free web of conversations instead of a big focal hub.

Sure twitter is easier, but it is flawed just like AOL or CompuServe.
Oh, how quickly they forget the twitpocalypse… – yrs trly is quoted…

Also – if you want to share your subscriptions look in greader for the “Export OPML” option.

The snarkmatrix awaits you

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