Jeremy Smith's blog

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The 3 Stages of the Internet

Throughout this post, I will be using the term "Internet" to refer to the World Wide Web.

First, there was no Internet. This is Stage 0. It was a horrid time. I can't seem to remember how people found phone numbers or directions or encyclopedic information or news or congregated with like-minded individuals on common sets of interest or, even, coordinated a night out. Frankly, I don't like to think about it.

Then... then, there was the Internet. And, it was glorious. You could sit down at a computer and access the wealth of information (and a bunch of geocities.com web sites).

Stage 2. Wireless Internet. The Internet was good, but you still had to sit down at a computer to access it. That was before wireless. Now, the Internet is all around us. The world is my connection. I no longer have to tether myself to anything to access the Internet. Right now, for example, I am sitting on my couch writing this blog entry with the Internet flowing around me and into my laptop. Nowadays, I won't even go to coffee shops and the like if they don't offer freely available and ubiquitous wireless Internet. I scoff at airports that don't offer wireless. University campuses that don't have wireless... luddites.

But, the Internet could do one better; it had one more trick up its sleeves. News aggregator software and RSS. Even with the power of wireless where I could access the Internet from anywhere, I still had to go to those web sites. Slashdot. Perl Monks. O'Reilly Network. OSNews. OSDir. Etc. There was probably over 50 web sites I regularly tracked. It was a hassle to collect all those bookmarks and remember to visit them and check to see if there was new content. Well, that happens no more. The Internet now comes to me! I track 150-170 web sites via my news aggregator, Bloglines (you can see the sites I track at http://www.bloglines.com/public/jms18); and it could not be better. This stage, Stage 3 of the Internet, has changed the way I use the Internet — even moreso than wireless changed it. I cannot be more of a proponent of news aggregator software. You will wonder how you ever used the Internet beforehand.

Bloglines isn't the only news aggregator software out there. There's a lot of them, and I have heard good things about NetNewsWire (Mac Only), NewsMonster, FeedDemon, AmphetaDesk, and NewsGator (requires Outlook).

This has been one of the harder points when I try to "sell" the Blog@Case system as a way to effectively communicate to customers. People don't seem to get it. They usually ask something like, "you mean they have to check a web site... how do they know when to check the web site?" I, then, try to explain RSS and I usually spin it as something people can include on the portal. But, they are usually stuck on, "but how do I force people to receive the content?"

Regardless, the Internet is moving on. We are finding better ways to communicate. Ways that are more effective and occur at a personal level. And, we are finding ways to virally spread the goodness.

In summary, in conclusion, and as a final note, give news aggregator software a try.

Comments

  1. gravatar

    I agree with you that this bloglines kind of thing is helpful.

    After you first suggested it, I tried it out. Initially, I thought that it would send me an email or something whenever a site I selected was updated, but that was a mistake on my part. I had not realized that I had to go to the bloglines site to check for updates, by clicking on each feed that I have selected.

    But I do that now and it does seem to save time and key strokes.
    Are there any other simplifying things that I could do that I am missing?

  2. gravatar

    Jeremy,
    I too agree that this stuff can be amazingly helpful. What they've done is found a viable way to achieve what Pointcast was trying to accomplish with push technology back in 1997. I recall subscribing to it then. I also recall the ITS folks at my old employer telling me to stop hogging bandwidth.

    You're also very right about working with www.case.edu/news/ Kevin and I have already been discussing ways of using RSS feeds for that. The time is ripe.

  3. gravatar

    I've been really busy lately and haven't done anything lately with my Case blog, 'Kevin's Blog Jam'. I did however, get it to receive several other Case blogs and display them all in ONE place. I thought also about the possibility of having the News Center incorporate some rss... both for receiving Case news from other news outlets, and for pushing out Case news TO others.
    These are two different issues of course.
    A third that you bring up may be the News Center having it's own 'group blog'. Several other departments, centers, etc could be good candidates for this as well. Is that possible? i.e. a Department of Whatever... blog. (?) Can they be set up on the Group level, without having ownership by ONE particular CaseID?

    I'll do some more work on my own Blog Jam this weekend, I promise!

    Kevin

  4. gravatar
    www.case.edu/news/ Kevin and I have already been discussing ways of using RSS feeds for that. The time is ripe.

    Indeed. An RSS feed for that would be great.

  5. gravatar
    I thought also about the possibility of having the News Center incorporate some rss... both for receiving Case news from other news outlets, and for pushing out Case news TO others.

    Yea, that would be nice.

    A third that you bring up may be the News Center having it's own 'group blog'. Several other departments, centers, etc could be good candidates for this as well. Is that possible? i.e. a Department of Whatever... blog. (?) Can they be set up on the Group level, without having ownership by ONE particular CaseID?

    Oh yes. We are looking for groups/organizations/departments to pilot group blogging. We will be making an announcement on the front page shortly asking for volunteers. If you have any good candidates, that would be great.

  6. gravatar

    I've known about RSS for years, and loved the idea of it. But I never found a way to use it that really seemed to suit me. I didn't like the way any of the programs seemed to work. They all seemed to either want to replace my browser or interact with it in some at least slightly awkward way (but, I'm picky), or installed into my browser, but left it feeling quite bloated and unstable. Then Mozilla & Safari introduced RSS support, and that held a lot of potential, but they too weren't quite what I wanted either (again, picky). So I settled for the kludgy and not always reliable solution of adding feeds to my LiveJournal friends page.

    Though I've heard of Bloglines before, I never quite realized what it was until you pointed it out here, and I've got to say, it's exactly what I've been wanting all this time, I wish I'd discovered it years ago, thank you!

  7. gravatar

    I've known about RSS for years, and loved the idea of it. But I never found a way to use it that really seemed to suit me. I didn't like the way any of the programs seemed to work. They all seemed to either want to replace my browser or interact with it in some at least slightly awkward way (but, I'm picky), or installed into my browser, but left it feeling quite bloated and unstable. Then Mozilla & Safari introduced RSS support, and that held a lot of potential, but they too weren't quite what I wanted either (again, picky). So I settled for the kludgy and not always reliable solution of adding feeds to my LiveJournal friends page.

    Though I've heard of Bloglines before, I never quite realized what it was until you pointed it out here, and I've got to say, it's exactly what I've been wanting all this time, I wish I'd discovered it years ago, thank you!

  8. gravatar

    I've managed to save up roughly $84351 in my bank account, but I'm not sure if I should buy a house or not. Do you think the market is stable or do you think that home prices will decrease by a lot?