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i've been following with interest some of the latest thinking about rss , mainly via ben hammersley's excellent xml and rss blog .

coincidentally, jenny brings up one of the things i've been thinking about regarding my own feed with a compliment of sorts:

"Those of you that think my posts run on the "too long" side in your aggregator will thank me for simply pointing you to tonight's collection of links over at Eric Snowdeal's Conflux. The topic is high-speed, wireless networks (3G and WLAN), and every article is a good read, especially for getting up to speed on these subjects."

specifically, with regards to her comments about the length of the post, i've been thinking about ways to give further choice to readers who might not enjoy some of my more monolithic posts clogging up their aggregators, while still respecting those who enjoy reading the whole post. back in the day , when i threw together the quick syndication hack , i decided on a quick "truncation" compromise, which could be considered the worst of both worlds, since neither group of readers is completely happy [incidently, the "chomped" truncation style is an artifact resulting from my poor grammer and punctuation collides with Lingua::EN::Sentence ]. in any case, i'm now leaning towards, but haven't fully decided on, offering the choice of abridged and unabridged feeds.

i have a couple of problems with the "multiple feeds" solution. many might think it's silly, but i don't want to start cluttering up the page with syndication icons. it's bad enough enough to have a big orange icon hogging-up acreage that only the tech-savvy are going to what to do with. i mean, how user-friendly is a big orange xml icon? not very. what do i do? make two big xml icons? do i color code them? how many people are going to know what to do with the one that's not described in the instructions of their favorite aggregator software? sometimes choice isn't A Good Thing.

also - and i realize this might sound like a wee bit of over-intellectualization - i don't necessarily want to offer substantially abridged posts - at least for conflux-style posts. despite the superficial appearances, conflux , and to a lesser degree {bio,medical}informatics , are not a mere "newsfeeds" of titles and links. i've usually spent a bit of time to weave and juxtapose facets of a topic, contextualized by quotations from the original articles. this nuance gets completely lost by truncating things down to barely more than a title. then again, maybe that's just my own bit of insansity, and i don't necessarily need to be forcing my elaborate excercises in out-of-context quotations on the unsuspecting masses.

amusingly, as i thought today about how i wished that aggregators supported link tags or a similar type of formalism for finding rss files, so i could have multiple feeds without cluttering the page and confusing readers, i noticed that jon udell has been doing some thinking that sounds spookily similar to my own line of thought:

"I expect that current practice -- either truncating items or not -- will continue. A few people (like me) may bother to offer a choice, in the form of parallel versions. The overhead is no big deal really, XSLT happily transforms one into the other. While aggregators could offer users the choice, within a single feed, of long or short variants of that overloaded thing we call <description> , I doubt this will matter to enough people to get off the ground."

even more spookily, he mentions my site in the same post. excuse me while i freak out in the corner to the sounds of the twilight zone theme.

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5/25/2002 12:10:00 AM 0 comments


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