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"Conversation. What is it? A Mystery! It's the art of never seeming bored, of touching everything with interest, of pleasing with trifles, of being fascinating with nothing at all. How do we define this lively darting about with words, of hitting them back and forth, this sort of brief smile of ideas which should be conversation?" Guy de Maupassant

Tuesday, January 27, 2004

RSS needs

Since i've started blogging, i'm faced with a strange paradox that came to me as i wrote my earlier post.  On the one hand, i feel i've broadened my interests and reading, through subscriptions in my news aggregators (i use Sharpreader and the inbuilt Radio News Aggregator).  On the other, i feel that i have cut out many more 'delights' through my dependency on RSS feeds.  And in a sense narrowed my reading to what's available through RSS.  Because its easy and its in your face.

I feel i have depth in my subscriptions on social software, blogs and blogging and areas related to knowledge management.  I have a few  favourites in creativity and innovation, some others that relate to marketing.  I've found little to excite me in the areas of market research or qualitative research really - anyone know of any interesting blogs or sites with RSS feeds in this area ?

Sometimes i am bored seeing the same stuff recycled in my aggregator.  At other times i enjoy reading different takes on a specific issue.  Still, i want more width - spanning different categories and areas of interest.  I use Feedster to search blogs on categories that interest me - and only a few days ago signed up with PubSub.  Still they donot make my search as simple as i want.   I still have to wade through pages - and sift out the gems.

What i'd really like is an aggregator of aggregators - let me explain this in my non-techie way - a place where i could go to - punch in something like 'dessert recipes' or something more dynamic like 'ecological imbalance' - and i'd then get a list of sites/blogs that have them - with a little RSS feed button by the side of each.  So i don't really have to wade through a whole lot everytime i want an update on the topic. And if there was a rating or ranking system attached to the feed, better still. 

Something like Wikipedia with RSS feeds too would be great.

I think i am so garbled - just me struggling with the paradox - and dreaming :)


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Carl Jung - Jungians on Technology

The other day i had a morning free.  Was watching cricket (we beat Australia that day :) ), listening to some of my favourite music, and browsing the web.  Not for any work-related stuff - just lazily walking through the internet for a little poem here, a splash of colour and fun there, an exploration of dreams, some music album anthologies ... and i was delighted to discover this really neat resource on Carl Jung.  There's a section on technology and environment - with many views ranging from a complete disdain of technology to others that suggest that we need to study further the relationship between technology and our psyche.

"Because it has for the most part been derived from the immense diversity of the earth's resources, technology can be said to participate in the relationship we have with nature itself. One way of looking at technology is that it is the end result of human intervention into nature. It is the final product which emerges from the use or abuse of nature. It is so pervasive and so dominant that it seems to have overtaken and subsumed nature unto itself. When I say "it" has, I mean, of course, it is we humans who have done this thing. Technology, which we have created, is so omnipresent and so powerful in our lives we have to ask ourselves this strange question: How do we relate to this thing we have made? What does it have to do with our relationship to nature? As urgent, What does it have to do with the human personality and the sense of "self" which is at its core?"  Dolores Brien


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Orkut - Why ?

More thoughts on Orkut ....

I don't know why it was - but i felt compelled to join it, and expand my circle of friends there rapidly.  Not something i have felt with any of the other social networks, with the exception of my initial days on Ryze - when Ryze was the only online identity i had. 

Among others, I got an invitation to join from Gordana, a friend from Ryze who felt the same - after we had both joined she sent me this note :

"Thought I'd find you on the new SN - so many familiar names and faces. While I am busy connecting cannot help but wondering why are we doing this? It's almost like moving a village, having multiple homes or perhaps just going on vacation together? On one hand it all seems a bit pointless, yet I feel compelled to participate - will spend some time contemplating why."

And Terry who got invites from Stuart, Judith and me, asks :

"Hi guys. Got your invitations to join orkut. Not sure I'm up for another one of these things. What do you see in this that isn't in Ryze or LinkedIn? Can it take us somewhere the others haven't? Or is your interest at this point exploratory?"

Worth thinking about ... especially when we're seeing so much activity in this area.

What was it ... can't really pin it down to one or two motivators.  For me it was a combination of  the implied google 'heritage', the flood of invitations to join, the speed with which the network was growing, the familiar faces there with friends circles that were growing by the second, the really neat UI, no delays whatsoever although i was away at my cottage and on a sucky dial-up connection, the little stars-cubes-hearts, the profile categories ?  Or is it, as Stuart says"Orkut bridges the gap between Ryze (too open) and Linkedin (too closed) without the "everything is for sale" on Tribe"

Did you join ?  The researcher in me would love to know what compelled you.


8:32:09 PM    comment []  trackback []

My Blog is my Social Software and my Social Network

All the uproar over Orkut - the crazy frenzy with which many of us signed on and went on a 'social networking' binge - the race to jump onto the bandwagon (guilty as charged too :):)) - the 'fall' with the server going down or is it something more mysterious - the myriads of blog posts on the making or breaking of Orkut flowing into my aggregator (there are just so many, its difficult to select which to link to - so no links here) - and the debate and discussion on what or who constitutes 'friend' - all made me think about social software and social networks.

My blog is my social software.  It is also my social network.  

It has my profile and much more - it has my identity fleshed out, through my posts.  

  • A profile with history that allows you to know so much about me - i started blogging in March 2003 - and already readers people have seen me add new professional interests and take my qualitative research skills into new areas, some know i love music and Floyd, others have been with me to my cottage in the hills, read about my holiday and  meetings with some wonderful bloggers on my trip, seen me change home, celebrated with me when i got a project due to my blog, and even wondered where i am when i've gone silent on my blog for a few days. 
  • A profile that tells you much more than any homepage i have on Ecademy or Ryze or Tribe or LinkedIn could. 
  • A profile that changes, grows, flows - not a cold resume or 'about me' page filled with past achievements and accolades - but is touchy-feely and one that says more about me through my thoughts, interests, preoccupations, rants, rambles and angst - that makes me more than just a consultant or a qualitative researcher - or a demographic statistic, 'female blogger from India'.    
  • A profile that is salient too - it gets me high up on Google in many areas of search - so i do get noticed.
  • A profile that is my online identity - yet one that has led me to many face-to-face meetings, some that have resulted in new friends, others that i am pursuing professional interests with.  And some that are a wonderful combination of the two.

With comments and trackbacks, guestmap and zonkboard, email id and skype handle - it lets me have conversations, make connections and network with people whom i share interests with. And engages me in meaningful dialogues. And i grow, as a result.

With Technorati (the new beta version is pretty cool btw) and Blogstreet, Blogshares and Sitemeter - i allow you into and share with you my reader community. 

With blogrolls and by building links into posts, i share with you people who's thoughts i enjoy reading.

With newsreaders and aggregators i discover more about others than i would through 'pleasantries' exchanged through my Ryze guestbook and stars or cubes or hearts as Orkut had (!!).

(Marc ... i will ping you about adding some more useful features like FOAF and K-Collector as i get my new blog on MT up and running.)   

When i did not blog, i found social networks far more relevant and useful.  Today, my blog is my one-stop shop.  

The question i ask is, do i really need one today ?

UPDATE - Lee Bryant has a terrific piece on The Flight of Orkut - navigating the Orkut trajectory in the blogosphere - and ending with these thoughts that i second strongly :

"This is not to suggest that online social networking has no "real-world" role to play in our work, our social lives or in bringing people together in pursuit of mutual understanding and collaboration - quite the contrary - but unless we can progress beyond the childish instinct to prove how popular/connected we are, and show some more meaningful uses of these technologies, then nobody will believe us.

There are some incredibly exciting ideas and developments (mostly coming out of the united States, I should add) such as Del.icio.us and work on underlying protocols such as RSS, Atom, FOAF, etc. We need our YASN pioneers, just as we needed early weblog pioneers, to help us learn lessons and develop tools and techniques that can be used more widely within a social software context. But if we are to convince the next wave of organisations and users to engage with this stuff, then we need to build on this experience and show some compelling real-world examples of online social networking in action, rather than social networking for its own sake."



7:41:16 PM    comment []  trackback []