In the last few days RSS has really started to change the way I use the Internet. I’m still not into reading everything on the whole blogging scene (don’t worry, the irony hasn’t escaped me) but previously I was limited to having a Firefox Live Bookmark for Slashdot in my bookmarks toolbar, which I used to check up on their latest stories and watch the open source zealots chatter amongst themselves. I tried out Firefox’s Sage extension when I wanted to get some more feeds, mainly so that I could subscribe to Apple ones so that I’d know immediately when Mac OS X 10.4 was ready for release.
Now I’m sitting here with NetNewsWire Lite (the free version of NetNewsWire) pumping 35 feeds to me all the time I’m on the computer. I’ve taken the obvious step of finding feeds for all my favourite news sites so that logging on in the morning no longer necessitates hitting GameSpot, Penny Arcade, BBC News, DVD Answers, MacNN, Slashdot, Wired, News Askew, etc, but this new RSS addiction has also allowed me to find a lot of little gems that I’d otherwise have missed. Sites like BoingBoing, Daily Mail Watch, Daily Sucker, Tetsuya Mizuguchi’s Blog (the guy behind Rez and Lumines, amongst others), and Mediawatchwatch. It’s the idiosyncratic, occasionally self-righteous kind of stuff that made the Internet appealing in the first place, and that it’s easy to lose track of in the maelstrom of commercialisation that the Internet is fast becoming.
I suppose that getting the news delivered straight to you in this way cuts out the effort of having to go to the sites for your fix, and just lets you cherry pick the stories that you want to read. Even if laziness is the catalyst for the boom in feed-reading (and hence the growth of the blog), it can’t be a bad thing.