Monday, March 03, 2008

Better Late Than Never (RSS)

The Google Reader RSS interface

As late as 1974, my paternal grandfather still had a black and white television. He told me that he thought color was bad for your eyes and he didn’t think anyone needed a color T.V. I remember thinking that he was stuck in his ways and old-fashioned. I felt he was just reluctant to move with the times, even when technology was much improved. I’m not sure that he every had a color T.V., but I didn’t visit my grandparents to watch television anyway. He was a kind and wonderful man who I loved and still miss to this day.

Fast forward to the present where I have inherited my grandfather’s attitude except that my stubbornness applies to cell phones. I have a land line which my husband and I forked over about $500 for the privilege of owning when we first came to Japan and it serves us quite sufficiently. While there are times when it seems it wouldn’t be bad to have a cell phone, it seems like a pointless luxury and an invitation to have our privacy invaded more frequently. Frankly, I don’t want to be accessible all the time.

One of the dubious benefits of age appears to be that you make the transition to wanting the best of what is currently available to being satisfied with what merely works at a level which meets you most basic needs. I’m not sure when this tends to occur for most people, but it hit me around 35 or so. I guess that the loss of desire to acquire new items for the sake of new functionality which you technically do not need but rather simply want is one of the reasons why the target demographic for most advertisers is so young.

Around the same time that I lost nearly all of my materialistic impulses, I also seem to have stopped enjoying upgrading my computer for the sake of having the newest thing with the shiniest operating system. I also stopped enjoying tweaking the interface and buying new software. If what I have installed is working, I’m content to leave well enough alone now. I used to actually look forward to backing up all my data, wiping out the hard drive and installing a nice, fresh, new system and apps any time I experienced some instability. Now, I approach the thought with dread over the time it’d take and having to dig out all my installation discs.

Because of this reluctance, I’ve avoided switching from using bookmarks for web sites to using RSS. For those who are even further behind than I (all 2 or 3 of you), I’ll mention that RSS is a way of tracking when sites update so that you don’t have to load a web page every day just in case they updated. An RSS reader will notify you when sites update and you can either read them in whole or part inside the reader or go to the site yourself.

In my case, I went with Google Reader because I’m too lazy to look anywhere else and my sister told me that’s what she used. It’s pretty easy to set up, but quite time consuming initially. Once you've subscribed to all the sites you want to track, you're set and it's going to end up saving you time. It's mainly useful for someone who reads sites which are sporadically updated rather than someone who reads big ticket sites that are updated faithfully every day. In other words, it's custom made for someone who follows a lot of personal blogs like me.


hiro neno said...

Whenever I find interesting sites, I not only bookmark them but keep their URL in draft folder in Yahoo mailbox and then when they gathered to a certain amount I mail them URLs to my Gmail and once mailed they're automatically hyperlinked. This is what I found a few years ago, and that way you never lose your bookmarks or important sites as long as either Yahoo mail or Gmail exist and you remember your password, if your personal computer died. Of course this not a new idea probably.

Third World Engineer said...

There's another way where you can download the updates on a feedreader and read them offline. This is especially great for people who don't spend that much time online.

It's not so difficult, actually. If you want, I wrote article on this here.

gaijinalways said...

I think the only reason I haven't made use of RSS is that I found the reading formats too busy for my eyes and that they actually made reading the text harder to read. I'll take a look at the Google one and see if I might change my mind.

I totally gree with you that some aspects of technology may be related to age, but also they may be related to personality (I'm not one of the early adopters, I'm afraid) and cultural influences. Some of the Americans I know in their late 50s and early 60s have had Ipods for a while now, but lest you think they are music junkies, they tend to listen to podcasts frequently (usually on political and other news related topics they are interested in). I sometimes listen to podcasts, but find listening to them on the pc is enough for me at the moment.