Bulletin #1 (Open Thread)

Topics:

  1. The Joy of Aggregation
  2. New Review Page
  3. Mansfield Park Blog
  4. What You Are Reading
  5. Connecting up
  6. Phew!
  7. Feedback Welcome

The Joy of Aggregation

Switching to RSS aggregators revolutionised my blog reading in ways that surprised me. I see form my blog statistics that few of you are reading the blog through RSS so I will explain how it helped me in case it can help you too. Here are the advantages I noticed.

  1. I no longer get repetitive strain injury clicking around the various blogs. I am exaggerating a bit but by much less than you think I am. The wear and tear from chasing round the blogs to see which ones had new articles was surprising. This is something you don’t have to do when using an aggregator as when you switch to the aggregator you get to see which blogs have articles waiting and how many articles. I can then either select each one in turn, or select a group of blogs (they can be grouped in folders) and view the articles by rolling the mouse wheel. It keeps track of what I have read and can just present the new articles (or all of them if you want to dive into ones that have already been read).
  2. I now don’t have to clog up my web bookmarks/favourites with the blogs.
  3. I use FireFox and Google Reader (its free and you can use your gmail login) where subscribing to a blog is really easy: press the RSS feed icon in the address bar and a couple of clicks and you are done. Unsubscribing is a single click. Other browser/aggregator combinations may not be quite so easy but it ought to still be quite straightforward.
  4. While there may be a short delay between the article being published on the web and appearing in the aggregator, the throughput seems to be much better–you spend less time waiting around for pages to load. This also eases the stress of reading somewhat.
  5. Google Reader provides searching on the blog or groups of blogs and often this works better than web searching.

The end of it is that I can read much more, more throughly, in less time with less stress. The flip side of course is that because you can do it more efficiently you will probably spend more time in total reading blogs. You have to decide whether that is a risk you want to take.

If anyone else has any experience they want to share then please do. I am especially keen to hear of negative experiences, people who have tried aggregators and found that they didn’t work to balance my enthusiasm. I am also genuinely curious to know why much more articles aren’t being read through the aggregators.

If people would like some more details on how to use Google Reader with FireFox and Internet Explorer 7 I will be glad to post a follow-up article. But you will have to ask!

The New Review Page

Some of the articles here are fairly ephemeral, but others are really an evolving collection of essays (the ‘feature’ articles) and I have thinking ways of making them accessible. I have made up a Review page (see above) that lists them all with short overviews, grouped in headings.

Additionally I will keep 5-10 articles in the ‘Features in the Spotlight’ at the top of my blog-roll (to the right) and an index of all features at the bottom of the blog roll (in the ‘Index of Feature Articles’ section).

The About page has been updated accordingly.

What You Are Reading

It is clear that articles on Jane Austen are popular, especially articles on Pride and Prejudice. I suppose this shouldn’t surprise me but it is interesting to see it reflected so strongly in the viewing stats. However my article on Dead Party Governing got the most hits in a single day by a huge margin—this surprised me as I didn’t have any reason to think I had many British readers, but maybe you were curious about what was happening here on the local scene. The article on Jane Bennet and Barack Obama was popular as I expected it to be, with nearly as many people reading the Jane Bennet part as the BaracK Obama part (with a number of people reading one or the other, which is fairly obvious from the shapes of the graphs). One short article I was quite proud of as it suggested a way of living life more fully got absolutely no takers for along time but four people have read it (I am nor really surprised of course, but the strength of feeling as it manifested in the stats was revealing). Please do leave some comments on this if the fancy takes you.

The Mansfield Park Blog

One thing I was really quite surprised about was how little people were interested in the Mansfield Park blog. (I have been busy with other things and this so I haven’t put up a Mansfield Park article today—I will try and post an article before the close, even if it is a short one.) Again I shouldn’t be surprised, especially if I am going to take Fanny’s part. I am not to be discourage. I am sure there are some Mansfield Park people out there even if they are in a minority and they will get there eventually. I am curious to hear what people have to say even if it isn’t very enthusiastic. I would like to really understand better why Fanny unsettles people so much—I have started to understand it a bit better since I started the commentary, but it takes a real leap of the imagination for me. As always let me know what you think.

Connecting Up

Thanks very much to David Edwards, Peter Knox Shaw, Arnie Perlstein, Ms Place, Scott Hughes, Catherine Levi and Laurel Ann for taking time to leave thoughtful and encouraging comments. I have benefited greatly from them and look forward to future exchanges. The exchange with Peter on Jane Austen and The Enlightenment I think really developed our thinking on a topic that is of intense interest to both of us. Arnie’s comments are spot on and anyone who hasn’t already seen his comment on The Prince and the Novelist and followed his links to the Sheehan articles (part 1 and part 2) may want to do so if they have an interest in word games and Emma (and note Sheehan’s credit to Arnie). I am knocked out and inspired by the quality of research and attractiveness of Ms Place’s Jane Austen’s World and Laurel Ann’s Austenprose.

There are many philosophy sites around that are just horrible so it was a delight to come across Scott Hughes’s Online Philosophy Club: I would like to blog on some of Scott’s forum articles as soon as I get some time later this week. I have found another excellent philosophy website that I will also add to my blogroll and I will start engage in some of the interesting articles appearing on these websites.

It feels like a blessing to make such connections—thanks.

Phew!

Although the archives suggest that the blog has been operating since November in fact all the 2007 articles were imported–the blog started in January , but it has only really come together in the last month or so. This latest reorganisation feels like a significant milestone. I look forward to focusing on content for the next little while. From 23rd-28th May, I will be attending the Dalai Lama’s teachings in Nottingham and will take my laptop with me and try to blog the teachings. (I will be helping out with the organisation so it depends upon getting time, and internet access.) From Nottingham I go to Madrid to spend time with my brother and then to Mojácar to visit my Dad, returning on the 11th June. I should have no problem blogging this section of the trip.

Feedback Welcome

Any questions, comments or suggestions?—it is an open thread.

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2 responses to “Bulletin #1 (Open Thread)

  1. I rarely leave any thought-provoking comments, as I am generally happily vegetated when I blogroll, and I am operating on the most primitive parts of my brain (ironically reading in-depth and well-researched topics). But I thought I’d let you know that I came your way from Ms Place feeling wayward and ready to kill some time, and now I kill time here. Watch out for all the dead-time! (or should it be “downtime”?) — now I am randomly inspired by Neil Gaiman to conclusively yawp “Watch out for the human!”, in case that might mean anything pertinent to you.

  2. Thanks Schoey–Neil Gaiman is new to me. I can expect to trip over him at least ten times in the next 24 hours now.

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