30 Oct

Feeding on old content

The problem with feeds and writers is that writers often push a post to the public then, horrified, rush to fix it, and then, horrified, rush to fix it, and then…. Because leaving a post as a draft is almost always a sure way to bury it for good or a good long time.

This anxiety-driven methodology isn’t a problem if your readership is low and not apt to rush out and read your latest hot off the press–and they come directly to your blog to read it. It is a problem if as soon as you publish the first draft your feed is dispersed to the winds and firmly embedded in the cache of overly efficient and ultimately lazy feed readers (I give you Feedly, among others).

I use Feedburner to distribute my feeds. It has a great Resync feature that flushes its cache of content and previous settings (like “present the full post” vs. “present the first 20 lines”). However, there’s often no way to get a feed reader (like my friend Felix Unger Feedly) to refresh its cache by grabbing the latest version of the feed. Which means often that first or second clumsy version is what the human consumer of text feeds upon.

“I read your post. It gave me gas.”

“Agh! If you’d waited or went to the site directly you’d not only have avoided gastric distress but browsed away fully sated and pleasantly aroused. But you need to wait for the dish to cool a little and the flavors to emerge. That’s the problem with the Web–it wants people to eat bread right out of the oven when every baker knows that it tastes far better a minimum of 2 hours later and often the next day. (O, irony of the devalued worth of day old bread! Bakeries should charge more for it, not less!)”

Note: Lightweight single-topic posts like this one are single draft. They’re easy. It’s the complex pieces, the essays, the creative pieces, the dears, who make all the trouble.