RSS and the Waning Mystery of the Web

By Deane Barker

Is it just me, or does RSS suck all the mystery and joy out of the Web? Does it make the whole concept of “surfing the Web” just a little more disappointing than it used to be?

Once or twice during the course of an evening, I’ll tell my wife I’m going to “check my email” and head downstairs to the office. To me, “check my email” means:

  1. Check my email

  2. Check

  3. Check

  4. Check my AdSense revenue

  5. Approve, delete, and de-spam Gadgetopia comments

  6. Check out my feeds in Bloglines

I always get a little depressed when I’m done, because there’s really not much else to do. That last one is the kicker – I get about every bit of Web-based information I need from Bloglines. In a hurry. After I’ve covered all the unread posts in that, the Web seems a little…empty. There’s just not much else to read. (The fact of the matter is that I could put CNN, the USAToday, and AdSense into Bloglines too, condensing my surfing even more.)

I remember way back when the Web was young, you used to have to surf – go from site to site to get what you needed. It was halfway exciting – you were living on the edge, man. You were surfing the Net. You never knew what you were gonna find.

Even as late as 2002, I had a “Daily” folder in my bookmarks with all the sites I visited every morning – Slashdot, Snopes, CNN, etc. It was a ritual.

Now the Web is delivered to me so efficiently that all the mystery of the Web has been sucked dry. This is cool, and I don’t want to turn back the hands of time, but there’s a reason I don’t have food delivered every lunch – sometimes I like to actually visit a restaurant.

Am I crazy?

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