Google Speedreader

I’m an avid skimmer of Google Reader. On most days, I periodically login and use quick keys to flip through 100 or so items. I might read one or two of them, start another few items, publish one or two as shared items. The key is to use it as productive digression, not to get bogged down with it as an obligation or labor-intensive duty. When I miss a day or find the feeds creating an insurmountable backlog, it’s easy enough to mark all as read.

This morning I noticed Google Reader’s down-counting ticker kept hitching–stopping on a number and no longer counting down, no matter how many times I pressed ‘N’ext. For months I’ve had Helvetireader working through Greasemonkey in Firefox; figured that must be it. But even after I deactivated Greasemonkey, the ticker continued to act up, firing only for the first few items and then sticking. The ticker would stop on a number (e.g., 80), and the fed RSS items would continue skipping down the page, many of them reruns. The service wasn’t broken, exactly. But it was (and remains) up on the blocks. Somebody is tinkering with it.

I caught a few clues on Twitter during the day (Thurs., a day I usually spend at home, half fathering, half professing) speculating about whether Google had activated Pubsubhubbub, a nearer to real-time relay process for RSS deliveries. Then, a few minutes ago, both in Google Reader and via Will Richardson’s Twitter stream, I saw this entry from The Next Web, “Has Google Reader Just Gone Real Time?” Possibly: Google is adjusting Reader so it will turn around RSS-fed content momentarily. Until now, Google Reader-fed material was delayed, arriving anywhere from 30-90 minutes after the content was first published. Google’s demure response (cited in The Next Web piece) is unsurprising in light of reactions to Google Buzz. But an upgrade to Google Reader that nudges it toward the ever-unfolding now is an intriguing, promising development, nevertheless. Moving Reader toward the now may dislodge assumptions about its readerly orientation and help us come to terms with it differently as a writerly/receivable mechanism–a platform for collaborative filtering (like Delicious networks) and threaded conversational annotation (both of which take GR well beyond a flat consumption practice). I’m encouraged to see some new energy routed Google Reader’s way. In fact, while it’s much too early for me to be decided about Google Buzz, if it makes any appreciable impact on Google Reader, all the better.

After the Camp

Tech Camp 2008 ended on Thursday after three days of entirely worthwhile,
invigorating stuff tied to imagework, web writing, and video.

I was asked to open the morning’s discussion on day three, and I did so by writing a short
list of openings and provocations on the marker board at the front of the room.
I felt most uncertain about the first item because I’m not sure I’ve considered
it from enough angles. I was thinking about the rock and the hard place
for new media in rhetoric and composition: critique, on the one hand, and technology grand narratives, on the other.
Critique, as I think of it, rears its head where the focus is on reading and
analyzing new media objects. Visual rhetorics often gravitate in this direction,
too, toward a consciousness-raising hermeneutics of thorough noticing performed on
images and objects made by others. Critique includes conversations about
access to technology, which are relevant and important, but do not serve well as ends in
and of themselves. Access-based critiques of technology cannot be not easily singled
out from that same predicament–is it an inevitability?–for literacy and orality,
nor have enough of them gone beyond commentary (even moralizing) into
action–grant writing, creative workarounds, and putting computers on desks.

If critique (i.e., the rock) is loose and inclusive, sweeping narratives
(i.e., the hard place) are even more capacious and also sticky (a Great Katamari;
look out!). Woes of technological imminence prevail here: it makes us
stupid, it is anti-intellectual, it atrophies muscles, etc., often in unfortunately broad

Continue reading →