Like Paul and Will, I am a fan of RSS. (For those unfamiliar with RSS, it is New Media's version of the AP News Wire; see "RSS in plain English" by Common Craft.)
Much like Will, I find RSS (e.g., Twitter) to be more fun the less I use it. But my idea of "using" is different than Will's. I consider reading to be "using" whereas Will considers reading to be "not using."
A couple examples of how I use and follow RSS feeds without reading:
- Over the years I have subscribed to hundreds of blogs and other RSS feeds using NewsGator. Rather than read them, I simply let NewsGator dump them into my Outlook mailbox. Once the content is in my mailbox, my cheap mongo-hard-drive and my free desktop search software (Copernic) keep all that content ready for me. For example, now that I am curious to read about Twitter, I can search my hard drive for "Twitter" and see that Nova Spivak blogged a few months ago that "In the world of Twitter things happen in real-time, not Internet-time. It's even faster than the world of the 1990's and the early 2000's." He goes on to chronicle the acceleration of our lives, concluding: "Twitter is simply faster.... Twitter may overcome the asynchronous nature of the Web. Even search may go 'real-time.'" Having waited 4 months for the moment when I actually care to read Nova's post, I will wait a while longer before I respond to his hope that Twitter will help us "overcome the asynchronous nature of the Web" and make "search go 'real-time'"--two statements that beg for rebuttal.
- Another one of my favorite uses of RSS is the right sidebar of the Leadership Networks site, "Recently Noted Links." The links in this sidebar come from an RSS feed that provides Leadership Networks with a non-stop news-ticker of content that is relevant and useful to the audience of the site. Furthermore, this one RSS feed represents the synthesis of hundreds of RSS feeds. You can glimpse under the hood here. It's similar to the previous example, except that the content scrolls down the Leadership Networks sidebar instead of getting archived to my hard drive. I guess the content of that sidebar is my version of what Nova Spivak calls "real-time search." Because I see it that way, the content is presented to embody (not to overcome) the asynchronous nature of the Web: It's available but not interrupting, there when you want it.