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Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Thoughts on the information age: news aggregators


Several of my fondest childhood memories stem from working in libraries. There, it was often my duty to take a crisp newspaper and clamp it to a wooden holder for broadsheets. My preferred paper was The Globe and Mail from quite early on; one of the alumni from my high school is a prominent columnist there.

The advent of the internet in the early to mid-90s happened to coincide with a period that I didn't subscribe to broadsheets and lived without TV (otherwise known as my time at university). To procrastinate from studies, I often read through some of the newsgroups, and played around with a personal set of HTML pages. Interestingly I was still working in the libraries during this period, but had moved to cataloguing new arrivals of periodicals, and didn't touch newspapers except for the occasional copy of the university papers (The Tech and Tech Talk - I was saddened to learn the latter went out of print in 2009) or Bay Windows, made freely available to the community in stacks at Lobby 7.

A few years later, I began to receive my news online, but still at independent sites like those listed above. It was more recently that I began fully using RSS feeds, but by that point, the information age was instilling the overwhelming sense that no matter how much I read, I would still miss interminably vast amounts of news. It has become all the more crucial to me to find sources where their biases were knowable, and where their integrity has been beyond reproach (the NYT scandal disillusioned me greatly).

Now that individuals have the means to publish their own news compilations, I marvel at their having the time to review, vet and hand-select the content to aggregate in the first place. At this point I've accrued personal interest in the national level headlines of all the countries I've resided in as well as retained a desire to practice Japanese (via reading generally, which is easily accommodated online). This, combined with an attempt to keep abreast of my friends' shared information on various SNS, has led to an increasing portion of my free time spent sedentary and online.  As thankful as I am for the world wide web, the inactive lifestyle part is something I need to change. At the expense of missing even more news, it seems, alas.

About Mayo

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Professional: As "Senior Enterprise SEO Strategist" in IBM's Digital Marketing division, I provide consulting and training services for both internal and external clients. Formerly I was involved in Natural Language Processing, software localization, quality assurance and documentation authoring.
Personal: INTJ Nikkei Nisei ex-patriated Canadian who takes photographs and enjoys Baroque through late Classical music. The G+ page shares some of the "best of" photos.