RSS Feeds (Living in the Echo-Chamber!)

A photo of my Harley and I taken by my friend Katie.
I've said this a few times now, but the shuttle ride I take to and from work every day is a blessing in disguise. I get to spend an hour twice daily reading. I cannot think of a better way to start my morning than by digging through my RSS feeds and the New York Times. Having spent a fair amount of time curating the websites and blogs to which I subscribe, that effort has since paid out in dividends. Using a curated list of websites allows for easy sorting through large portions of the web that I care about most. The top-level categories I currently use to sort websites relevant to me are:
  • Comics (Comic news, weekly releases, blogs of my favorite artists/writers, etc)
  • Friends & Family (Articles by people I know)
  • Google (Official Google blogs)
  • Music (Collection of Rolling Stone blogs)
  • NYTimes (RSS Feeds from the frontpage and from their BITS blog)
  • Technology (Lots of UX and frontend web development)
  • The United States Marine Corps
  • UW (My school's newspaper and a few other official blogs)
  • Design (Web and otherwise)
The great thing about organizing my reading this way each day is that I can quickly sort through all of the articles that are most relevant to me without wasting time crawling across the larger web. The downside unfortunately is that it becomes very easy to fall into the trap of living within an echo-chamber. By curating my news, I inadvertently read articles written only from viewpoints that I support, which in turn further reinforces my personal convictions. 

Google as a company has been at times criticized for placing their employees within a similar echo-chamber. They hire the same smart graduates from the same top-tier universities who all think the same way and reinforce one another. It's easy to see why previous generations of large corporations have lost their ability to "think outside the box," rendering former titans virtually obsolete (Hi NokiaPolaroid, KodakHewlett Packard, and RIM!)  

As an aside: Has anyone actually visited Nokia's website in the past 10 years? One of the largest makers of mobile devices in the world can't even design a responsive, mobile-centric webpage!? It's little wonder they are sitting squarely at the top of RRW's DeathWatch.

Group-think aside, the ways in which I consume this content is almost entirely via mobile devices. I have a Google provided Motorola Xoom that I use pretty frequently. I have also moved away from using the native Google Reader android app and now use a combination of Flipboard and Feedly (both of which still sync with feeds that I manage through the Google Reader web client). I also read a lot straight from my phone, but seldom find myself doing a large amount of reading from a desktop or laptop.

I think that regardless of how I consume media, or the types that I do consume, the important thing is to keep an open mind to alternative viewpoints. Just because I read the NYTimes and prescribe to their liberal interpretations of the world's news doesn't mean that I dismiss conservative ideas outright. At the same time, this also doesn't mean that I'm ever going to incorporate Fox News into my morning digest. When all is said and done, my beliefs are still rooted firmly upon the traditions and values that my parents taught to me growing up. If the news I subscribe to reinforces and compliments those values, all the better. 

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A photo of my Harley and I taken by my friend Katie.