Keeping Up With The Joneses, I Mean The News

The logo of NetNewsWire, my RSS reader of choice

Now begins the long task of emptying the backlog of thoughts and topics that have built up since I decided that a blog was going to be in my future.  While beginning a blog at the beginning of 2011 seems like a fresh start, in many ways I am jumping into it in the middle of so many things, and so it will probably be a while before I feel like WIBI actually has the foundations necessary for me to say that it is my blog.  But there’s only one way to work towards that goal: chipping away at the virtual pile of unwritten articles!

I have realized over this past week, my first back in Vancouver, that while I am physically unpacked and comfortably back in my routine, I have by no means mentally unpacked.  That will come, but for now I will begin by writing more about form than content (bear with me – or just skip my posts until you sense that deep metaphysical problems are being discussed).  I will start with ‘staying up-to-date’ specifically through my use of RSS feeds.

I’ll begin by saying that my family doesn’t get daily newspapers, and so The News was never really a part of my life.  This upbringing led to my thinking that the news was really not worth my time, which was compounded by the belief that I couldn’t do too much to change the news, and what happened in the news couldn’t do too much to change my (extremely privileged) life.  This belief was recently challenged by people I respect (maybe two years ago?) and I decided that I would at least try to read news regularly and see where that took me.  However, in the decade that has just finished (the Noughts, Zeroes, or whatever they are calling it this week), the easiest way to do with was definitely not subscribing to the print edition of the New York Times and sitting down every morning to read it before going to class.  Instead, I stumbled upon RSS feeds, which are even more efficient than having a stock list of websites to check daily, which is where I started.  Looking back, it is actually not the efficiency of never having to remember which articles you have skimmed already on a given site that led to me incorporating RSS feeds into my daily life.  Rather, reading ‘news’ this way led to me discovering so much more than traditional news sources.  The beauty of links, when properly used, is that if you share interests with the author, chances are they are putting the time and effort into filling each article they write with other authors and ideas that you will like.

So I quickly went from not caring about The News to having way too much News to read, since the web is actually a pretty big place.  It became clear that I needed to find a balance and then put the effort into sustaining that balance, as I was inevitably going to run into more and more new sources of information that I found worthwhile.  Coincidentally, one of the biggest additions to what I ‘follow’ regularly are other people’s blogs, since by finding someone whose thoughts you value and reading their words, you are getting them to sift through the news for you and provide commentary rather than always needing to read the (dry) primary sources.  What that balance is will become fairly clear to regular browsers of this blog, but my own balance is not really important to anyone but me, since it is tailored for me to get the most out of the countless sources of information that are a click away on a daily basis.  What is important is figuring out how much time you are willing to spend regularly reading The News, or analysis of same, and then embarking on the trial-and-error process of constantly refining who you will be reading to provide that news.

I think that the topic of ‘Why Read News’ deserves its own post, so I will just assume at this point that there is a reason that you find convincing for reading the news.  Where WIBI fits into this whole picture is that it functions as my ‘output.’  However much I enjoy endlessly reading articles and books, not sharing those thoughts and arguments with others is a pretty boring, lonely experience.  Facebook has been my placeholder for broadcasting the most note-worthy articles that I have read, but I think WIBI will be much better since a blog is the appropriate place to discuss articles that really leave an impression on me, and hopefully the audience will be more self-selected in their interest of what is shared.

I can’t imagine that you have read till here without thinking that it is extremely dry, and that my excuse about not wanting to delve into the topics that will be the bread-and-butter of this blog was totally unconvincing.  However, this really does connect in many ways to topics that will come up later, so forgive me for building some of the foundation before filling the library with books and comfy chairs to read them in.

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4 thoughts on “Keeping Up With The Joneses, I Mean The News

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