Thoughts on serendipity and blogging

All three of the televisions in my house are connected to either a TiVo box or a DirecTV box. Both of these systems give me the option of displaying a “guide” in a grid right on the screen. If I want to see what else I can watch, I click to the guide and browse until I find something I like. That way I can search all I want without changing channels and stopping whatever is currently being shown from being recorded. I love this feature.

My girlfriend fiancée hates it. When she is watching TV she never uses the guide. She just punches the code for E! or VH1 and goes right to the channel. This bothers me both because she sometimes stops recording something by changing channels and also because it just feels inefficient. Why not just use the guide?

I just can’t seem to get into RSS.

I can’t really get upset about it, though, because her method is the same one I use to read my blogs. I just can’t seem to get into feeds. RSS is certainly cool and I dig the ability to subscribe to the feeds of the sites I like. But I never do. I have a bookmark folder in FireFox called “Blogs” and that’s where I save the links of my favorite online reads. About once a day I scroll to the (incredibly cool) “Open All in Tabs” link in that bookmark folder and pop open all my blogs at once. This is definitely less efficient than using an RSS reader — or the system included with Firefox — and only checking the blogs which have been updated recently. Why in the world do I do it this way?

I realized what the answer was a few days ago. It’s serendipity. It’s the same reason I sometimes enjoy strolling the aisles at Barnes & Noble for a book even though I know it’s much more efficient to just go to Amazon to find what I want. Amazon tries really hard to “bake in” a serendipity effect while you’re on their site. They show you “related items” and “suggestions”. But it’s just not the same as trolling through a stack of books in a brick and mortar, and I don’t know that it ever will be.

I like opening all my blogs in tabs because sometimes I’ll notice something on a blog that I hadn’t noticed the last time I was there. Or maybe someone will update something in a sidebar that won’t trigger an RSS reader that something’s changed. And not everyone who publishes a blog knows to ping the rest of the world to let us all know they’ve posted something new. And… well… sometimes I just like to browse. I like serendipity.

I actually have two sets of bookmarks. One is called “Blogs.Daily” and the other is called “Blogs.Weekly”. Here are my daily reads:

And here are the ones I try to hit once each week:

2024-01-18: Dead links in this post have been removed and/or updated.

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