Proof of Life

Juan at 60 In an email exchange this morning with my friend Juan, who recently celebrated turning 60, he commented that he had been somewhat concerned about me because he noticed that I hadn’t updated my blog in “many days.”  He is right of course in a manner of speaking , but in another way he is overlooking that the blog actually is updated each day, even if there isn’t a newly composed post like this one.  Since others of you may not be aware of these daily modifications either, I thought it worth my time to point them out to you and to share some of the insightful remarks that Juan made in our exchange. 

First, he observed that in this age of electronic communication watching someone’s blog is a way of keeping an eye on them to see if they are okay.  He noted, and I recall, that in earlier times we used to look for signs that our neighbors were okay and attend to signals that we might need to check on them.  He mentioned seeing them walking their dog or noticing their newspapers accumulating on the driveway or observing whether the light on their porch went on and off at the “usual” times.  If you noticed that any of those ordinary events didn’t occur at the usual time or in the usual way, then that might be a signal that you needed to check on your neighbor’s well-being.  He was thoughtful enough not to use the phrase “elderly” neighbor, but that would have been appropriate both in his example and in my case.

Nowadays, of course, as he pointed out, our neighborhood is significantly larger and less constrained by proximity.  The signals have changed to things like whether there is a new blog entry or whether the person responds in a timely fashion to email and through such things we can keep tabs on friends and web neighbors and still express our interest and concern for them when we see behavior that is out of the ordinary.  So I was grateful for his thought-provoking insights and for his concern for me, but as Mark Twain, I think it was, is supposed to have said, “The reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated.”  I am alive and well.

But, you ask, how would you know that, since as Juan says I haven’t updated my blog in many days.  Well the answer is you might know it if you looked in the sidebar at the “From my RSS feeds” section and saw there were new headlines there, or if you followed the “Read more” link at the bottom of it to read them.   There you would find the items I’ve shared from my scanning of the 64 RSS feeds that I read more or less daily.  And if you examine that link you’ll probably find that even though I haven’t written a blog entry such as this one in the last 15 days, hardly a day has gone by that I didn’t share at least one entry from my reading of my RSS feeds.

Juan wanted to know if it weren’t possible for that to happen “automatically” since it is an RSS feed and wouldn’t that be deceptive evidence that I was alive and well.  The answer is that the items in that group are things I have consciously and manually chosen to share with those of you who may be interested.  According to the statistics in Google Reader, in the last 30 days I have read 4,030 items from my 64 RSS feeds and of those items I have shared 43 of them in my so-called link blog. 

To say it another way, those 43 things are things I might have otherwise forwarded to someone (or several someones) in my distribution list by email, if I wanted to tell them about those items, but instead of “imposing” them on you in your email inbox without your requesting them, I choose instead to put them on my blog where you can scan through them, if you choose.  Think of it as the filtered result of my reading the web, filtered of course through the prism of what I find significant.

But for the purpose of determining whether I am still living, you can assume that if something new appears in that list of items, it got there because I put it there.  Regardless of whether you consider them either interesting or worth reading from your point of view, it is at least “Proof of Life.”  So when there is another long pause in postings like this one, as there is sure to be, if you want to check on me, check my link blog.  If new items are appearing there, you can be sure that I haven’t yet keeled over at my keyboard.


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2 thoughts on “Proof of Life

  1. Michael Neel

    Your “distilled” news feed has let me removed a few blogs from my daily read – I trust if they post anything of interest I’ll see it on your “news roll”. Not going to mention certain blogs by college kids that have killed my interest by posting mostly paid reviews by name, but it’s happened and your news feed helps me “sift” though the RSS in the “pipes”.

    In fact, I may be setting up a similar news feed of my own for legal/political issues. I’ve sore off posting about them because the detract from my blogs focus and take away too much free time that I want to do other things. Yet, I still read many other blogs (Ars, Eff, etc) that cover these topics, and a news roll would be a perfect solution – I still get to “pass on” interesting stuff, while not getting adsorbed in writing the actual post.

  2. Perry Post author

    Thanks for the comment, Mike. I like the notion of the “distillation” of what I share, since it connotes a sort of moonshine quality to the items I pick out. I know the specific college kid of whom you speak and I too have noticed a somewhat disappointing tendency in the direction of paid reviews in his postings. I have found less of interest in his reviews since he began doing that, but I remain subscribed, so if I see anything that I think you or my other reader(s) might want to know, I’ll be sure to post it.

    If you do set up a news feed on your blog, please alert everyone to it in a post, since I’m subscribed to your main feed but wouldn’t necessarily automatically get that new feed once you initiate it. I too am interested in the politics of life online and am likely to see most of the significant things, but two sets of eyes are bound to be more attentive than one alone.

    Your comment reminds me that I failed to mention in my post that my link blog has an RSS feed to which someone can subscribe and therefore receive updates automatically without having to visit the blog.


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