RSS and interconnections
Since I added the vanderwal.net RSS feed I have been picking up other RSS and RDF feeds. I have been using Ranchero's NetNewsWire Lite to pull many feeds of sites I read on a regular basis. I have become a convert to RSS/RDF extracts. They are a time saver for seeing only updated sites. I have read feeds of many of the news sites from MacReporter for quite sometime, but having personal content and blogs pulled in is quite a timesaver and allows me to get through more information.
I do see a downside of the XML feeds, in the disconnection of the creator from the users. The Web has given us the ability to have digital ghosts that we know come to our sites and possibly read content. This is much like Plato's cave shadow people, in that we do not see the actual people that come to the sites, but we surmise what these visitors are like and what they come to read. Occasionally we receive comments on the site, e-mails from visitors, or best meet folks in person that read/experience your work. It is very much a disconnected work that is built from guesses, for those that try and care (some just build for themselves resources to be used remotely and all others are welcome "free riders", like here). The XML feeds seem to take away another level of the "interaction" between the creator and the users. This relationship is important in communication as the feedback helps shape the message as well as offer paths for both parties to learn and grow.
The XML feeds offer the consumers of the information easier and more efficient means of getting, filtering, and digesting information, but the return path to the creator is diminished. The feeds are a consumer oriented communication channel and not so much an interactive communiction channel. The down side is a lack of true interactive communication, which becomes more of a consuming produced products, much like frozen dinners that get popped in the microwave. The interaction provides the creator with an understanding of how the user consumes the information and what the consumer of the information is finding usable and how the consumer is being drawn to the information. When one cooks their own meals or is being cooked for the meal can be spiced and seasoned appropriately for consumption. The presentation of the food can be modified to enhance pleasure. The live cooking process allows for feedback and modification. Much like the interaction of information in a communication scenario the creator and the consumer have a relationship, as the creator finds the structure and the preferred means of consuming the information the presentation and structure of the information can be altered appropriately.
In a sense the XML feed could be seen as one type of information structure of presentation. There are other options available that can be used to bring back the interaction between the creator and consumer. Relationships and connections are built over this expansive medium of the Web through information and experience. These connections should be respected and provided a place to survive.