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View Thread: RSS - When you've got a hammer everything looks like a nail...
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    I feel caught between the hype and common sense where all this blogging and RSS feed hype is concerned.
    Part of me is swallowed up by the enthusiasm of those involved with it all. But a large part of me thinks it's "Emporer's New Clothes" being pushed by a few people with a vested self-interest in promoting it, and that maybe the rest of us are being suckered in.

    Let's take the "London Geek Dinner" wiki site as a good example of the sort of approach I'm seeing more and more of in this world of 'agile' programming. I could write a long rant about Wiki's - anybody who thinks the Wiki for Community Server or DasBlog is a better alternative than a few straightforward sheets of documentation in PDF format is clearly living in a different world from me - but let's save that for another day. But we seem to be in a situation where "Add a wiki and while you're at it add an RSS feed too because RSS feeds are good" is the 'hammer' mantra, even if it's an approach that just doesn't work.

    In this scenario, as organiser you're trying to book a restaurant. The Wiki format gets you up and running (sort of) quickly but does it do what it needs to do? Is it usable? Or does it actually waste more time than it could have saved if a proper "app" had been quickly developed in its place? The Wiki format means people are adding their names when they don't even know if they can attend (thinking a comment like 'might not make it' or 'will try to get there' is sufficient to magically sort everything out on the numbers front). There's no incentive (or basic application functionality) to remove your name so that a slot you don't intend using can be taken by someone who really does want to go.

    To me it's a classic example of a Wiki being user unfriendly and causing all sorts of problems (with the restaurant who may get pissed when half the booked number show up) to boot.

    As I sit here getting tens of RSS 'updates' a day for a page that isn't visibly changing at all the fundamental flaw in the 'when you have a hammer everything looks like a nail' RSS approach shines through. What a horrid, hacky, messy solution it is for this sort of scenario. The only thing this functionality does is have me going "Quick - where do I unsubscribe?!"

    Which brings me onto the wider subject of blogging.. ... it occurred to me today I'm wasting far more time than I used to waste on email and forums (before I did some time analysis and cut down) ploughing through endless 'low signal to noise ratio' blogs for little real positive result. Is anybody other than marketing and PR folks (and journalists desperate to find something new to write about) really using this stuff and promoting it? Is there a reason why most of the attendees at the Geek Dinner are marketing/PR folk and journalists? Shouldn't this instead be called a 'luvvie' dinner rather than a 'geek' dinner or have I got my terminology completely wrong?

    What do others think? Am I completely missing the plot or is there some truth in what I'm saying?