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In praise of blogrolls


(That’s blogrolls not bogrolls. Stop sniggering at the back there.) Back in the days when only scientists and software engineers knew about algorithms, and the words “filter” and “bubble” were only next to each other on a Scrabble board, we had blogrolls. This would be a selective list of the blogs that you subscribed to placed on your own blog. Selective because only the bravest people put all their feed subscriptions on public show, unless you didn’t mind everyone knowning you had a thing for Selzer drinks or dogs dressed as Star Wars characters.

Today I came across a blogroll, which shows that they aren’t dead. What happened was I followed a link to an article on kottke.org where Jason listed readers' recommendations for new blogs. I had a look at the suggested list and subscribed to a few which looked like they had interesting posts in. One of them was karigee.com. I was looking for contact details so I could comment on an article and I came across this link to her blogroll. I've yet to look through that list of blogs, but I'm looking forward to doing so.

What you would do with blogrolls in the olden days is look through them and see if any of them were interesting. If they were then you’d subscribe to them in your feed reader and then every time you opened your reader you’d have a fresh lot of stuff to read.

Not that I’m against algorithmic suggestions in walled gardens; in fact you might be reading this article syndicated on a walled garden that I support. The advantage of this approach is that you don't have to kiss a lot of frogs. There is still the possibility that there's a tight mesh of people all linking to each other, so if you follow them through you go round in a ring (webrings, now there's a another thing) and end up back where you started. However, at the moment I think humans are better at curating than machines.

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