Feed subscripitions, personal brands and the potential for people gravity at their intersection

Saturday, 20 Jan 2007

This is a wandering thought inspired by serendipity. The other night I was perusing my del.icio.us network and curiosity drove me to look at the bookmark lists of the strangers who have added me to their network. I found the majority uninteresting; no surprise, as people’s interests are diverse, and just because someone likes some of the things I consider compelling does not mean I will equally like the things they consider compelling. A few lists were even dull – when people seem to read many of the same places I read, bookmarking things I don’t. However, there were a few people whose bookmark lists featured many items I didn’t know and found worth seeing, and it was striking just how interesting I found some of those.

And so now I wonder – how many of the people who have subscribed to this weblog (or read one of my other online presences) have things of their own to say that I might find as compelling as they find mine? I likely won’t ever know. It occurs to me that this could seem like a late-comer to the mass de-lurk meme that went around recently, but it’s actually different. (And I don’t have a comment function here anyway – though you’re always welcome to use email if you’re sufficiently motivated.) This musing isn’t about communicating directly as much as about an opportunity to discover aligned minds (with a different perspective) and listen in on them.

I guess this is the premise on which reddit operates; though it aggregates collective taste to achieve something quite different: to algorithmically weigh your tastes against the tastes of others to present you with hopefully delectable choices made by people you match. In contrast, I am not interested in the choices in and of themselves; I am interested in them in the context of the person who made them, what’s called a personal brand in marketing-conscious weblogging circles.

It might be really interesting if there was a standard mechanism for web feed subscribers to let the owner of the feed know who they are if they so choose.