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Tuesday, January 20, 2009

The post time on this post is on Tuesday PT, just before midnight. I say that counts. Even if it actually goes up at 2 AM.

So I don't have the results of the Golden Bowl, or the final college football rankings, and the NFL Lineal Title hasn't been updated, neither has the college title really, and the webcomic post is going to be delayed until at LEAST tomorrow (Wednesday), and I should come clean and figure out the reason all these things, plus myriad schoolwork and my job hunting, are late.

I've long figured, in my own mind, that checking all my myriad RSS feeds shouldn't take too long. I mention my RSS reader from time to time on my webcomic posts, and I am of the position that having an RSS feed will greatly accelerate the day I review your comic. I may well be reviewing Sluggy Freelance this week if it had an RSS feed; instead it could take a month or more.

Well, webcomics aren't the only thing on my RSS feed - I have eight or nine feeds on sports alone and those are just the ones still updating. (One of them has an odd little problem; it seems IE7 can detect the items on there, but isn't detecting new items, not even slotting them in the old items' slots.) I have plenty of other feeds as well, covering more topics than you can shake a stick at, and many of them are blogs. Ideally not only would most of them be short, I could read at least some of them at home, and not waste time I could be spending doing stuff that actually requires an Internet connection.

Commonly, however, they often link to longer articles. Or I could get stuck reading a bunch of stuff I'm not interested in, or doing a lot of scrolling through the feed. And on both the posts and the longer articles, I'm often moved to comment, or at least look at the comments, and that can involve as much effort as writing a blog post.

One thing I like about Irregular Webcomic! that's almost as novel - maybe more, for its impact outside webcomics - as its structure is its RSS feeds. Yes, I said feeds, plural. One feed contains just a link to the comic, with a list of themes it's in. Another feed contains the comic itself, and a third feed contains the comic and its complete annotation. I don't have much use of the lesser feeds for a webcomic, but imagine if Blogger allowed readers all these options.

Blogger allows you two choices of feed, "short" (first paragraph or 255 characters, though I suspect strictly the latter, with no paragraph breaks or images) and "full" (entire posts). The choice of feed is a philosophical choice: you could be on the side of making sure people trigger your hit counters and see your ads, or you could make it more convenient for them to read your blog as long as you're giving them a feed. But believe it or not, some people may prefer a short feed, if they have less interest in the topic and don't want to commit too much time to reading a bunch of crap they're not terribly interested in, and scrolling past all of it.

If I had to quibble with any feed's decision on how much info to put in their feed, it would probably be Sports Media Watch's short feeds. I always click on anything SMW puts up, even if it's something I read already in a place like Awful Announcing and I don't need to know anything more. But I can imagine how the topic might be just a little too geeky for other people and they don't want to dwell on it too much. If something doesn't interest them in the title and first sentence, skip it. (And Paulsen has pretty short posts. AA would benefit from a short feed, for that matter, even though I wouldn't use it.) Conversely, there are some things I'd rather see in short-feed form that publish as long feeds, yet I can see how people would be interested enough in the topic to want a long feed.

So anyway, that's been my chief distraction: too many feeds to check. I haven't been able to follow webcomics without feeds, and I haven't bothered to fix feeds that aren't working, and I dread it when I add a new feed, which I do sparingly. And it all monopolizes time from other stuff. Even the semi-frivolous business of Da Blog has fallen by the wayside to the almost completely frivolous business of checking stuff.

I may re-prioritize some of my feeds and re-organize my folders to clear out some of the cruft and most frustrating stuff, and I'm going to try to focus more on more important stuff... but I've told myself that before. The problem is that checking feeds is relatively low-intensity, so it marks good rest time, but I just need to reduce the time it takes somehow.

So. If you want to stick it to Microsoft with the exception of your operating system, click here for the Random Internet Discovery, which I may have more to say about later. And I guarantee at least two posts on Wednesday. Of course, that's contingent on me getting enough sleep now...

(And I have a serious beef with Buzzcomix. It's one thing to have your site suspended twice in a little over two weeks, but to not even have a channel to let people know what's going on, especially when the old site had a forum...)

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