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4.5.04 Online Snipe Hunt

Did you ever go chasing something around the internet? You get a sudden impulse -- maybe something you ought to know more about, you go chasing Google links, one place leads to another, you get lost for hours, then wind up someplace completely different, with no sense of having accomplished a thing?

I guess it started on Saturday with a story in Wired: "Why RSS is everywhere." When I had a Moveable Type blog (a.k.a. weblog or this journal using different software) the documentation kept mentioning "RSS" and "syndication" but I had absolutely no clue what it referred to.

Here's the idea: there are all these news feeds out there -- official (like CNN) and unofficial (the zillions of weblogs or "blogs" out there). RSS lets you collect all the news sources you like into a single news reader like My Yahoo. It also holds the promise that I could syndicate the contents of this very journal -- sending it out as a news feed for anyone interested in my meandering rants and ruminations.

I found a simpleton's guide to RSS and realized I didn't need any fancy software to syndicate this site. I could have just sat down and tried it, but no...

Instead, it got me thinking. Shouldn't I be getting news feeds on some topics of interest? What in-the-moment news am I actually interested in? I'm interested in global politics and social issues, but I like my "news" delivered in pre-digested analyses, preferably in the New Yorker or The New York Times. What does that say about me?

Being a creator, a would-be documentarian, shouldn't I be following two or three unfolding stories and do my own analysis?

Yesterday, I downloaded a free news reader program called Feedreader and started poking around at the feeds they include in the package. Then I went to browse News Is Free, an "aggregator" of feeds I could link to. Then I got lost in

I was looking to discover something -- some dangling piece of yarn I could work till I'd woven an interesting story. But all I did was jump around.

So much for a snowy Sunday in April.

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