Monday, January 22, 2007

My Clicking Grounds

How do you like this blog:
I hope you don't mind when it gets a little airy.
I used to try to post at least once every couple of days. I enjoyed the reward of clicking onto someone's blog and finding a new post, maybe not every time, but often, and I tried to offer that same satisfaction to others.

All that changed when I started subscribing to blog feeds. Now I just click onto Google Reader, and I know right away which blogs have new morsels for me. I can have my reward right away, or save it for later. No more hours of hungry clicking and gnawing on old bones.

Google Reader has taken most of the compulsion out of my blog reading. That's a good change. There are some costs, though.

I don't follow comments as much now. A few blogs have comment feeds enabled, and if there is a particularly provocative post I will subscribe to its comment feed and follow that for awhile. Mostly, though, I rely on my memory of promising spots to return to in my clicking grounds. Sometimes I have a vague suspicion that I asked a question somewhere, but I can't remember where it was, and I just don't take (or have) the time to click around and sniff out my buried bones to chew.

A curious thing: now that I know whether posts are waiting, I quite often leave them for later, and later, and still later. My former clicking habit would have brought me around to those same posts much sooner.

On the other hand, I pounce on new posts from the less active blogs. I used to get impatient with blogs that rarely rewarded my click. Now there is just pure delight and anticipation when those infrequent posts appear in my reader.

All this means that I can be more honest with myself about which blogs I really enjoy. I enjoy them for the content, not for the click rewards. That sounds like a good thing, but at the same time, am I becoming even more selective? How often do I read outside my comfort zone? How often do I even read the news? (I could subscribe to some news feeds, but they clutter up the reader too much.)

Google Reader has affected not only my reading, but also my own writing. I confess, now that frequent posting is no longer important to me in others' blogs, I am less inclined to strive for it in my own. (If you're not using blog feeds, sorry about that.) What's more, it seems that part of my inspiration arose from the time spent idly clicking through blogs. Seeing the same old post titles over again, interspersed with new posts, and enlivened by comment threads, somehow stirred up new ideas for me. Perhaps it jogged memories of dishpan musings.

Lately the kids have been doing more dishpan musing than I have. Perhaps it's not all the fault of Google Reader, after all!

Overall, is Google Reader a good thing? Well, it has probably cut my computer time by three quarters, and brought my life into better balance. Now I have the time and the attentiveness to get the kids doing dishes! No, wait, that was the four-place-setting effect.

Do I need to get out more?


Tim Hodgens said...

Laura: My, my you've been a prolific writer.

I haven't tried google reader yet. I'm still in clicking mode. Do I want to make my clicking more efficient? I'm not sure I want to, yet.

Take for example my clicking on your blog. I do it regularly because as I said before I "like your stuff." That's why I go to other sites also. At present I don't go to all that many but I could see it expanding exponentially if I allowed it to and then the clicking would be taking too much bandwith as the techies like to say.

While I'm typing the address there is a kind of curiosity as to what I will find. Not a disappointment if you or someone else hasn't posted, but a nice positive "pop" if there is something there. I guess you could say that I am conditioning myself through those "pops" but I feel it's more.

After a while you get to have a sense of the person and there's also a sense of curiosity, for me, as to how they thinking about whatever it is they are thinking about. I like that. It's like a positive anticipation.

I also don't always remember where I have left my comments, especially if it's a site I don't visit often.

On a slightly different note, I am also feeling a certain pressure to post and I don't like that. If I go to less frequent posting then maybe that's where the google reader might be valuable for me or others.


Tim Hodgens said...

Laura: Now you've gone and done it! I took a look at the google reader and I feel a wave of infatuation coming over me...I think I'm going to be in love again with the reader. Much potential.

I'll let you know how it plays out.


arcolaura said...

Tim, I just don't know what to do about that pressure to post. I have a feeling that people drift away when I don't post as often, and even my own interest tails off a little. But when I post frequently, my blogging focus takes on a life of its own and tends to come off the rails of reality.

My present hope is that as more people start to use feeds, the pressure to post will ease a little, and a more comfortable balance may emerge.