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Sunday
Mar242013

Thinking Independently Starts With Control of The Information You Receive (And an RSS News Reader)

I've advocated for some time that a person who seeks independent (and innovative) thought needs to construct their own "online" newspaper with a heavily reliance on bloggers. I explain my rationale here.

At the center of my reasoning is that television networks, Google News, and other curated outlets limit and re-contextualize what you see. Watch this TED video by Eli Pariser and consider the following thought: if I'm running a business and I'm relying on Google Search, Yahoo News, the New York Times, or the Wall Street Journal, or any other news outlet; then what am I missing or misunderstanding that could damage my company and life (or for you opportunists, what have I been missing that could have enriched them)? To paraphrase Eli Pariser's terminology, "what is my online content provider's "filter bubble" actually filtering? The answer to this question is of course that you don't know. You only know if you own the filter. This problem is accentuated since Google has further diminished your personal control of information (RSS feeds) by the sunset of Google Reader. This will now require that your information be pre-aggregated (and monetized!) through their Google search engine or their social media. Which requires participation in their information bubble.

I'm not the only person with furrowed brow. Dave Winer helped develop the RSS messaging architecture used by blogs and Google Reader today.  Here's a post from his Scripting News blog.

"Waking up to the world around you, it's always controversial to say that big tech companies make money by controlling the flows to and from users and charging others for access. But that is at least one of the businesses Silicon Valley is in. And it's definitely the business Google is in, so if you want to understand why they might do something to restrict or try to control the flow of RSS, that's probably part of the story, at least. (I'm bending over backwards to be conservative here.). The thing to fear is that Google intends to control the news people can subscribe to, the same way Apple controls what apps you can buy for the iPad. And the way Twitter decides what clients can have access to our tweets. We broke free for a bit there with unrestricted flow from blogs and news orgs via RSS. There are people who would like to put the genie back in the bottle. They're not going to run press releases saying that. This is one of those cases where the reporters have to investigate to get the news. News people -- if your plan for the future includes free flow of news from journalists to readers, now's the time to take a look."

What should you do to become a "sustainable" independent and innovative mind? The answer is straight forward: manage your own information flows by seeking a direct unfiltered connection to knowledgable bloggers. The tool required for this is an RSS Feed Reader.  I currently use NewsBlur  because I like its ability to organize a large number of feeds. Find the tool that works for you. 

 

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