Blog posts tagged "attention"

Traffic, how do people do it?

June 8th, 2006

I have never in my entire life cared about traffic. I don’t drive, I don’t commute, my long commute in Seattle only took 20 minutes to walk because the line at Lighthouse Roasters was so long.

Now I find myself painfully aware of the ins and outs, and more strangely the cardiovascular health of the Bay Areas freeway systems. Major clogs and blockages have serious impacts on my plans.

So um, how do people track this stuff? Presumably there is some sort feed, or maybe SMS notification I sign up for customized to roads I care about?

I hear we map traffic here at CorporateHQ, which I guess would be fine if traffic fascinated me and I wanted to monitor it all day, but really I don’t have the attention for that, and I was thinking about something a little bit more interrupt driven, and targeted.

Anyone got a suggestion?

update: People did, including * move * listen to the radio * “dialing 511 on your mobile phone can help. It has a Tellme (or at least, Tellme-esque) voice interface that’s kinda annoying and hit/miss, but you can at least tell it a major highway by name and it will tell you about any delays right now on that highway.” * Y! traffic rss | grep ‘101|280’ | SMS

thanks everybody!

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GCal Daily Agenda: A Retraction

May 5th, 2006

I mentioned before how much I liked the Google Calendar daily agenda by email feature. I take it back. Its completely worthless. Why? Because they send it to you whether or not you have any events happening that day. How many times do you have to get a daily emails with zero content before your brain stops seeing it? For me it took about 3 days, and then it faded into the noise of uncaught spam.

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Automatic Unsubscribe Considered Harmful

November 1st, 2005

I’ve see a couple of tools recently adding automatic unsubscribe features, options to unsubscribe from a feed which has gone silent for too many days or weeks.

This seems 100% wrong to me. Almost a betrayal of the bright and shiny promise of RSS.

As a Blogger

Part of what makes blogging a sustainable medium for personal publishing is I don’t have to publish every day, every week, or every month. I’m secure in the knowledge that when I do publish, my audience will still be there.

A TV station can’t do this, a newspaper can’t do this, and so they’re forced into a professionalization of media creation which is by and large unsustainable. (hence the poor quality of the evening news, wouldn’t it be nice if they only put out a report when they actually had some news to report on?)

As a Subscriber

I subscribe to a number of feeds that are only updated when something goes wrong. My server goes down, my page stops validating, there is an emergency weather alert. I need the confidence to subscribe, and then forget about these feeds secure in the knowledge that they’ll still be there when needed. (otherwise I’ll have nagging doubts, and might as well just check a website daily, this is what GTD is all about as I understand it, the confidence to forget)

As a Developer

I don’t get the motivation. A dormant feed is nearly zero cost. It isn’t changing so conditional GETs reduce the cost to the aggregator and the provider. It isn’t updating, so there is no cognitive cost to the reader. I don’t get the motivation.

Please if a feed goes long term 404, 410, 500, etc, sure unsubscribe, rather then pounding them forever. But a feed simply gone quiet? That would be a shame.

Wrong Problem

The real problem is some way to automatically detect feeds which are no longer interesting. And even then I usually hold on against the day they’ll swerve back to what I started reading them for. (usually I enjoy the detours, but sometimes…) One of the beauties of del.icio.us is it explicitly allows people to be multi-facetted, and I think our aggregator tools need to start being more aware of this.

caveat, I haven’t actually used FeedDemon’s feature (not being a Windows user), it merely reminded me of this worrying, dare I call it wrong headed, trend.

Managing Attention in Aggregators

May 29th, 2005

Scoble has a really lousy feature request for RSS aggregators

Feature request for RSS News Aggregators: I want to be able to “clean up” my feed subscription list. I want to remove any RSS feed that hasn’t published in the past XX days (default to 30).

Part of what makes personal publishing work, and what makes RSS such a key piece of it is that you don’t have to publish every day, you don’t have to publish every week, and you don’t have to publish on a schedule.

You can publish when you have time and something to say confident in the knowledge that your audience is still there, still waiting. In a well designed interface feeds without traffic should be zero cost mentally to all parties involved.

Matt Webb has a much better suggestion.

Here’s a feature I want from my RSS feeder. Every so often it should silently hide one of the feeds. If I notice, and if I remember what it was is that’s been hidden, I should be able to say: Hey, you forgot feed X, give it back!, and the application would say: Okay then, you got me banged to rights, here it is. If I don’t notice or can’t remember, the feed is deleted permanently.

But how do you tell when the aggregator has deleted the feed in order to see if you miss it, and when they a feed just hasn’t been updated recently?

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