Of Junk and Recessive Feeds

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“The human genome is riddled with dead genes, fossils of a sort, dating back hundreds of thousands of years — the genome’s equivalent of an attic full of broken and useless junk” starts this story from the NYT.

That description also fits my Google Reader. It’s full of junk feeds that no longer publish anything or even feeds of blogs and sites that no longer exist. In terms of “clearing the attic”, my (and I assume, our) attitude to junk feeds is similar to nature’s towards genes – if they don’t come in the way, why bother?

I find it interesting that, like DNA, these junk feeds can reveal a great deal about our past to a nosy researcher in the future – ourselves included.

But even more interesting is the possibility that a junk feed – happily forgotten – reanimates back into life. In the case of DNA, as the NYT article above points out, it can be deadly. But in the harmless world of RSS feeds, it might be worth some wanton thought-experimenting.

This has happened to me a few times – not as shockingly as I would have hoped it to be. But as people spend a decade or two with RSS readers accumulating more and more junk feeds as they go along- the possibility of a recessive ‘feed’ that comes back to life grows. And with that the possibility that an interest – outgrown and forgotten – can return to influence and consume the reader (the person, not the Google product) again. Some of you might be thinking stamp-collecting, but – a bit dramatically perhaps – I am thinking ‘fight club’.

What I find tantalising is that this junk feed is actually a wormhole that still connects two people (the publisher and subscriber) – with potential for the former to influence the latter, long after knowledge of – or even the basis for – the connection has been extinguished.

I think, there’s a plot lurking in that thought.

[Original pic by nacaseven]

Original Post: http://www.misentropy.com/2011/08/of-junk-and-recessive-feeds.html