Don't get me wrong, RSS is a fantastic way for me to keep tabs on all the news and all the blogs rapidly, in one place. But the technology is in itself passive, and I keep finding myself missing out on the full picture, as the RSS reader (Google Reader in my case) scrapes the feed, but doesn't give me some very important elements to the blogosphere, including context, community, comments, and presentation. In effect, I am losing my participatory role in the blogosphere, making it less of a conversation, and instead, much more passive.
As I push through the 500 or so articles a day, if I stay in the RSS reader mode, I don't get an indication as to who is commenting on what articles, from any of my 100 or so feeds I follow. Even those feeds that list the total raw number of comments don't speak to who is commenting and the tone of the discussion, and there is no way to see without visiting the site directly.
Instead of adding to the conversation myself, I'm hitting "Add to Shared Items" for my link blog and moving on, not commenting and not alerting site owners and content generators that I'd been by. To those site owners who generate the RSS feeds themselves, I'm a mere number in their Feedburner statistics. I don't show up in their page views, my name doesn't show up in the comments, and I may as well be invisible. And as Robert Scoble and Shel Israel's "Naked Conversations" and other new media books will tell you, often, the comments are more interesting than the original post itself. Blogs are for community, not for a pulpit.
Given I don't have the time to control-click each of the URLs to see them in their own right, to see if the comments and those commenting will encourage my being involved in the conversation, how do I break through the RSS barrier? I don't see that the RSS standard is going to be enhanced such that comments are optionally displayed for each feed, so I should be much more diligent to selectively pursue conversations with top bloggers and top conversations. Otherwise, I've cut myself off from the blogosphere.
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