A pale moon’s shadow

Recovered from the Wayback Machine.

Jeneane writes about lazy aggregator people, and the loss of community because of RSS aggregators. Her solution is for everyone to bring back the blogroll. Ralph agrees, stating that feed aggregators reduce every site to a dull grey lowest common denominator…. Both talk about the disruption in conversation that reading feeds in aggregators can cause, and consequently the loss of community.

I don’t think community can withstand the vagaries of this environment. Differing experiences and interests over time will surely drive a wedge between both community and conversation much more quickly than the use of any technology. Consider a recent experience: Ralph and Jeneane had a chance to meet and chat at SxSW. This is an experience they shared others of us have not; there is now a virtual line through their community; there are now those who have physically met and those who have not.

Communities grow…apart as often as not.

I have resisted the full feed for long because it was important to me at one time to know people were out there and I was actually being read. I still believe that fullfeeds adversely impact on the discussions you have at your site.

I also put much effort into the design of my site, all of which is lost to an aggregator. I like my site design. I think it’s soothing and elegant, but has enough interesting bits to it to make it stand out. The photo changes every time you visit, though you won’t see this if you’re using IE. I worked very hard for this effect — that and the new shadow and the perfect choice of color. You won’t see any of this through an aggregator.

Now, it’s not as important to me if people visit the site or read my writing through an aggregator. Oh, I do mind my photos being republished in a feed because of the bandwidth; or my syndication feed being re-published at another site, especially one that features ads. For this reason, you’ll have to send me an email requesting access to the full feed I’m creating, as I’m password protecting it.

I’m also thinking of putting a line at the bottom of each post in the Atom feed, saying:

“Created especially for my friends. Does this mean you’re my friend? Good. I need a place to sleep, then. I’m no bother. Really. Well, aside from the insomnia. Oh, and I have 8 cats. Well, my boyfriend’s kind of scary, but the meds seem to help.”

Communities, friendships, a sense of companionship and sharing can’t be made or broken through the use of tools. If anything, when we become friends through our online associations, we have done something extraordinary–we have reached beyond the limits of technology and created something human, and real.

But it’s a fragile reality–like the shadow of a pale moon.

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