Category Archives: Reading

Unsubscribing from all the things

I really miss the heyday of RSS feeds. After running my own installation of Fever for years (which would periodically get bloated and I’d have to nuke it and start over) and then ultimately moving away from Fever after Shaun Inman discontinued support sometime last year, I’ve been using FeedWrangler, which I’m relatively pleased with.

Remember when you could actually find tons of useful options for locally hosted RSS feed readers back before we really cared about mobile phone support and reading the same feeds everywhere and Google Reader spoiled us all and then Google ruined our lives by shit-canning Google Reader? *sigh* Those were the good ole days of RSS. Amirite, Dave?

Anyhoot, my point is: RSS is great and I wish it were still as popular as it used to be with all the appropriate tools to support it. It allows you to subscribe to and be notified by all the things that you’d like to know about and you can easily skim through items you don’t care about in feeds.

This is extremely unlike the recent trend of email lists and subscriptions to emails… Where you have to open each one to mark it read. Where you have to click delete to make it actually go away. Where you have to religiously click UNSUBSCRIBE if you don’t want the emails reproducing like wet Mogwai who you fed after midnight.

Signal to noise ratio. That’s the problem.

There’s too much noise in modern society and not enough signal. Also, the plethora of signals available thanks to the commoditization of the internet mean that too often everyone is surrounded by microcosms of opinions that are just like their own. Everyone is stuck in their own little personally-nuanced echo chambers that distort our reality and make us think things like there is no way that guy could ever be President and tell themselves lies like “Oh he’ll never get sworn in. They’ll realize something illegal about him,” or “He didn’t even want to win. He’ll probably quit,” or “You know, he used to vote Democrat. Maybe this is all a ruse to get the Presidency and then he’ll get in office and actually be very liberal.” Yeah. Right.

So, yes, what I’ve veered into now is beyond just emails, and is actually inclusive of RSS feeds (if one doesn’t diligently subscribe to a variety of different voices to avoid the echo chamber effect), BUT emails are a key part of the commoditization of the internet. When we all first started blogging, it wasn’t about money. It was about having a voice in what was then a wild west of information. Now, it’s become a sea of advertisements. And they are all targeting you and tracking you and the majority of the emails that you receive (that aren’t from grandma or one of your coworkers who can’t convey what they want to in a text) are actually tied to the commoditized internet and are either trying to sell you something or pull you back in to read more things that they already know you like reading specifically so that your eyeballs will continue to see the advertisements they’ve sold alongside that content, which are also now presented based on things that they know that you’ve bought in the past.

And because of that: I highly recommend that we all unsubscribe from as many of the things as you can. Start with email lists. Start with deal sites. Start with Product Hunt. Start with Facebook. Start with your podcasts. Remove everything that reads or sounds too much like the thoughts you already have in your head.

Do that, and then start looking for other voices that are different. Don’t pick a lot of the same sort of different. Choose a variety. Read those for a week. Then add in a few of the ones that are more in line with what you already think. Have a healthy cornucopia of opinions and thoughts coming in. Then start your own blog. Or your own Twitter feed. Or however you think you can best broadcast what new thoughts you’re thinking from all that input and let’s start having some effective discourse again. Like we used to before we let ourselves be commoditized.


Branch & The Wheel of Time

my birthday gift to myself just arrived! #wheeloftime
I popped over to Branch this morning to check it out and posted this. I’m embedding it here with the embed code that Branch provides, but it doesn’t seem to be working:

I’m waiting to see if anyone else just naturally responds to it based on me tweeting it and posting here without having to invite someone specifically to the conversation.

In any case, I pre-ordered the hardback of A Memory of Light (Wheel of Time (Tor Hardcover)), the 14th and final book in The Wheel of Time series by Robert Jordan (and now by Brandon Sanderson who has been concluding the series after the author’s death). I had sort of stopped ordering any paper books for the past year or so, going all digital all the time (at least for all non-art books), but with my birthday happening on Friday, I thought I should go ahead and indulge in this book. Every book in the series has been close to 1000 pages and I’ve read all of them. This is the 14th and final. I started reading them back when I was in high school, I believe (or maybe it was early college). I was a different person back then than I am now. The book is different too and I thought it would make a good topic to discuss on Branch and get feedback from others who have been reading these books for more than a decade. We’ll see.

My wife has written a novel called “North Shore South Shore”; please tell everyone!

Kristin Sample
My very talented wife, Kristin Sample, has written a novel. It’s set on Long Island and is titled “North Shore South Shore.” It’s been complete for about a year now, but she is about to stop her employment at the high school where she teaches and is actually moving towards publishing the novel. Here’s some information about it from her site:

About the Book
Boy meets girl.
Boy loses girl.
Girl ends up running a crime family.
Kylie Baines and Matt Tracy were high school sweethearts but as their college careers draw to close, they are worlds apart. Can they find their way back into each other’s hearts with all the secrets, drama, and Kylie’s new role as Styles, acting head of the Baptiste crime family? Find out their stories and hear the stories of Ben Carrick, Matt’s best friend, and Colette Baptiste, Kylie’s cousin in North Shore / South Shore.
Buy on the Kindle, Nook, and iPad–Summer 2012!

If you want to see what it’s all about, you can start reading it now (the first several chapters are online ready for your reading enjoyment).

Kristin has also started a Facebook page for the book, so if you use Facebook please head over and give it a like. Over the course of the summer, I’m going to aide her in self-publishing the novel and we’re going to most likely start a Kickstarter Project to help cover some of the promotional cost and the cost of getting a nice cover for the book and incentivize donations via discounted early ebook copies of the book. So please stay tuned. Any help in spreading the word about this is greatly appreciated by the both of us.

What I’m reading…

I‘ve added a new page to this site, linked to in the sidebar, and called What I’m reading… The page is a collection of all the stories I’m marking as Saved in Fever, my current feed reader of choice. However, since the page is RSS based itself, if I ever decide to ditch Fever and go back to Google Reader, I can simply place my Google Reader Shared Items feed in that page, just as I’ve done with the Fever feed. Or I can replace it with some other better RSS feed reader in the future.

Also, if you’re interested in following along with what I’m reading and find interesting, you can subscribe to the feed that is generating that page here. You really should also follow me on Twitter here for daftly insightful and insightfully daft commentary that is guaranteed to be varied, if nothing else.

Big thanks to D’Arcy Norman for spotting this new sharing feature in Fever and drawing my attention to it.