Aggregating the aggregated - controlling weblog infoglut

ITworld.com, Ebusiness in the Enterprise |  Software

It was only a matter of time I suppose. It seems like only yesterday that the world cottened on to the power of weblogs as a mechanism for controlling infoglut. Weblogs are a great way of keeping up to speed with stuff without spending all day at it. I say 'stuff' here because it is difficult to be more specific - the weblog phenomenon is now global in terms of subject matter. Cats for example, seem to feature strongly in weblogs. Go figure.

The insanely great thing about weblogs is the update notification mechanism that is part and parcel of a weblog. You subscribe to a weblog feed and voila! Updates come to you rather than you having to fish out the updates. Tools such as bloglines[1]allow you to set up a list of your favorite weblogs and it does the rest quietly, efficiently and without fuss. I am a heavy bloglines user. It is easily the website I spend the most time on these days. One day recently I had trouble connecting to bloglines and I surprised myself by having a mild panic attack. It has become part and parcel of my daily routine. Imagining online life without it is not pleasant. Also, looking at my referrer logs with sitemeter[2], bloglines is a site lots of my visitors visit from. I wonder if they have mild panic attacks when the cannot get their feeds too?

Over the last while an interesting phenomenon has taken hold in the world of weblogs and content aggregation. It is becoming increasingly possible to subscribe to aggregated weblogs with your aggregator. This isn't as head-hurting as it might sound at first. I am referring to weblogs that serve to aggregate together material from the weblogs of particular communities. Such aggregated aggregates give you a single feed to subscribe to rather than having to subscribe to multiple feeds independently in order to track a community.

Two examples straight from my own blogroll are planet XML[3] and planet Python[4]. As a consequence of the emergence of these aggregated feeds, my total number of subscriptions in bloglines is decreasing rather than increasing.

Being a hopeless seeker of generalizations, I cannot help but wonder where this phenomenon will take us next? It appears as if a meme has taken shape around the use of the word 'planet' so it might be no harm to extrapolate the analogy for guidance as to where we may be headed.

What would a 'solar system' (or maybe simply 'system') of weblogs be? It would be an aggregation of planets of course. In my case, that probably means a single feed that gathers the best stuff our there covering XML, Python/Jython and Web Services.

Extrapolating further, what would a 'galaxy' be? From what I have seen in tech weblogs so far, it would combine one or more 'systems' devoted to technology with one or more systems devoted to cats. Go figure.

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