Random Thoughts: RSS Feeds and Book Introductions

I have two lingering thoughts I wanted to throw out there, sort of random.  One is a call-to-action, one is a thought/question for everyone.

RSS Feeds and Biased Information

I was having lunch with Patrick Meier and Lokman Tsui about two weeks ago, and Lokman was talking about his dissertation topic at the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard Law School.  He’s focusing, generally speaking, on the impact of citizen journalism on global news production (Lokman, correct me or expand here!).

It’s funny I decided to post what was probably the the least interesting part of our talk, but it’s applicable to the way I run my life every day, and the way I think a lot of you run yours.

We were talking about how some technological advances, and the routines that come from them, have actually increased the bias of some media outlets.  Who you call on for information, what channels you push content through, what you have access to.  I chimed in with RSS feeds.

RSS feeds presumably make our lives easier for information consumption.  That’s the idea at least.  The other thing it does is almost guarantee you’re reading information from the same places, every day.  In making it quick, you make it narrow.

I realized this a while back, so I make it a conscious effort to “clean out” my RSS feed (ideally) every week… might not happen every week, but at least I think about it.  The other thing I do is add new sources to my RSS feed on a regular basis.

So there’s a constant influx of new information, and a purging of what I’ve deemed useless at that point.  Some sources stay around consistently, some I’ve previously trashed come back, whatever.  I don’t have any guidelines except that I want information from a varying number of places to guarantee I don’t rely on just a few.

[UPDATE (Monday night): Apparently, David Griner went through the same process on Friday, which I'm realizing now because he (has consistently) made my RSS feed cut]

So, do you “manage” your RSS feed effectively?

Book Introductions: What’s the point?

I just got my copy of David Meerman Scott’s new book The New Rules of Marketing and PR: How to Use News Releases, Blogs, Podcasting, Viral Marketing and Online Media to Reach Buyers Directly (you can buy it here), which I’m excited to read [More on the book as I get further into it].

I started out with the Introduction.

Here’s the deal.  I don’t read introductions as a general rule.  I’ve only read the intros to books written by people I know and have a relationship with (David falls under this category).  I skim the table of contents, maybe skim the intros quickly, but really, I just dive into the first chapter.  I’ve always done this.

I know, I know.  First rule of putting together a piece of communication is tell me what you’re about to teach me, teach me, the tell me what you just taught me (I’ve written and taught how to write enough pieces that this is engrained in my head).  But in general, intros bore me.

Does this make me impatient?  Am I missing something big?

David’s intro was nice enough, I think I took away something from it because I know him (intros get you into the head of the author? I don’t know).  But I think I would have gotten the point starting to read (no offense David! It’s not YOUR intro, it’s just how I feel about them overall).

So tell me, AM I missing something?  What do YOU get out of book introductions?  Should I start reading them more?  What makes a good introduction or a bad one?

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