Every morning, I have the same routine: make coffee, shower, have breakfast, read tweets. At times, checking e-mail leapfrogs twitter (especially during midterms and finals when my inbox is flooded with student e-mails), but for the most part– that’s the routine. To say the least, a vast change from a black-and-white memory I have of my father sitting back in his worn-in easy-chair, coffee on coaster to his right, and newspaper in hand. Within the multitude of reasons for this, I submit they key lays in “active passivity.”
In 1997, Paul Levinson‘s The Soft Edge noted that “speed is [...] the essence in delivery of news, [therefore] we might expect the online newspaper to easily exceed the sometimes soggy mess of print delivered to our doorstep only in the morning” (183). As I write this post, my living room’s bay window offers a picture of a particularly grey, windy, rainy front yard and driveway. The very driveway where a morning paper would be delivered. While the physical elements do play a roll in my lack of enthusiasm toward retreiving a paper amid raindrops and wind, Levinson’s note of “speed” plays much more of a vital factor in my decision to not pay for news delivery (the monetary cost also playing a bit of a role).
Having covered the ‘passivity’ in “active passivity,” here’s where the footwork comes in: harvesting news sources.
Just months ago, I found most of my news from RSS (Really Simple Syndication) Feeds. Most blogs and news websites offer an RSS Feed somewhere within or surrounding the text of an article/post. If a website or web log does not offer a ‘clickable’ RSS link, secondary sites like Feedburner.com would provide writers with a unique RSS Feed URL. Plugging that URL into a Feed Reader (much like those you see in the picture to the right) provides instantaneous updates to one’s blog or homepage. The screen-shot provided comes from my iGoogle homepage. Fully-customizable, iGoogle delivers immediate article/posts/news from websites/blogs I’ve visited and harvested for content. In fact, popular sites like The Drudge Report and Huffington Post both represent “aggregators,” or sites that conjure a majority of content from outside sources (Drudge is more exemplary of this characteristic).
Recently, my aforementioned iGoogle homepage has collected a serious layer of dust. Truthfully, multiple layers. The central reason: Facebook‘s Newsfeed and my customized Twitter-Feed. Both tools represent vehicles for news information and, better, a lack of initial RSS/website harvesting.
Now, because I share tastes in news stories with my “friends” (Facebook) and “followers” (Twitter), I read about news that they find interesting. Which brings me to the premise of this post: “Facehoo!”
As you can see, the following post from a former classmate came to my attention three days ago. The link Samia shared with her friends delivered me to the original article at MediaPost. The most interesting component of the article comes here:
Yahoo users will see friends’ Facebook activities in “Yahoo Updates,” a tab found on key properties within the Web portal such as Yahoo Sports, News and Finance. (Mark Walsh)
This post arrived just days (if even that) before Facebook-founder Mark Zuckerberg‘s open-letter to the Facebook community, when he revealed the network had exceeded 350 million users (side note: notice the RSS Feed icon in the upper-left corner of the screen shot). Further down, Zuckerberg acknowledges the same changes shared in the link provided above. The partnership between Yahoo! and Facebook will undoubtedly result in an increase in Facebook users.
Think to those people who Mark Penn refers to as New Luddites, people who “don’t use [technology] because of age” among other characteristics (Microtrends, 257). Though this group may have ignored the initial surge toward Facebook (and social networking as a whole), e-mail (specifically Yahoo! e-mail) and Yahoo! are two elements of the Web they all know. Once they initially notice “comments,” “status updates,” and “sharing” links, this group will be lured to Facebook from their Yahoo! homepage.
This initial introduction to, what Howard Rheingold refers to as “reputation management” or “social filtering,” trail-blazes a way for more “active passivity” news sources. Rheingold cites examples such as:
“Epinions [who] pays contributers of the most popular online reviews of books, movies, appliances, restaurants, and thousands of other items. [...] Slashdot and other self-organized online forums [that] enable participants to rate the postings of other participants in discussions, causing the best writing to rise in prominence and most objectionable postings to sink” (Smartmobs, 114-115).
All of the above, plus popular cites like Digg, all play into this individual news collecting trend of “active passivity;” a definite eVolution to take note of during the initial stages of this “Facehoo!” partnership.