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subscribe to my brain

rather, I’d like to subscribe to your brain! But I figure you’d allow
this (at best) only on a ‘share-alike’ basis so let me take the first
step. Maybe you already have your newsaggregator pointed to this
weblog, but what if you could be able to follow all traces I leave on
the web (or at least those you feel like following)? It’s a great idea
which started off with a couple of posts. Like John Resig’s Life as RSS

A little while ago I began to realize just how much of my personal
information is digitally created every day. This is both scary and
enticing (to me). Scary, due to the fact that people can harness this
information for evil/marketing. Enticing because I should be able to
(theoretically) harness this information to provide a better user
experience for the people who care (me and my friends, I assume). So,
the other day I sat down and tried to figure out every accessible data
medium that I generate and have access to.
… My masterplan:
Essentially, an RSS aggregator (makes sense, nothing special) that pulls
all of my personal RSS feeds into one place and provides an overall
statistical view of the information that it contains. I may even provide
some detailed information, save for things in the ‘Personal’ category.
What I like about this is the fact that most of this information is
completely public (or is possible to make completely public) – they’re
all using common/widely available programs or tools. So, stage one: Set
up a personal life browser – stage two: Open it up for the world to play

soon to be followed upp by Lost Boy’s My Life in
and continued by Louche Cannon I want to subscribe
to your brain

The other day I was talking to a former
colleague and I was trying to explain how I have gradually switched to
using an assortment of social content tools as my primary mechanism for
finding relevant and authoritative information on the web. With these
tools, I can subscribe to an assortment of RSS feeds produced by people
who I trust and think of as authorities in their respective subjects. In
short, I said, “I can subscribe to their brains”.
Or at least I
can in theory! At the moment, for those of non-geekly tendencies, the
practicalities of “subscribing to somebody’s brain” are a little
daunting. If you have an RSS-aware browser or have installed one of the
useful bookmarklets provided by the likes of bloglines, then subscribing
to individual RSS feeds is relatively easy. The problem is that I might
be interested subscribing to:
– What person X is blogging
– What person X is bookmarking- on several social bookmarking sites
(e.g., CiteULike, Furl)
– What person X is listening
to (e.g. AudioScrobbler)
– What person X is taking pictures of
(e.g. Flickr)
– What person X’s travel schedule is (e.g. iCal)

– What books X is reading or planning on reading (e.g. Amazon
wish lists)
The first problem is finding out what feeds person
X provides. Most of the time you have to ask them, or search through the
individual services for the person’s name. If you are dealing with a
relatively clued-in person, you might be lucky enough to find links to
their various feeds off of their home page or in the margins of their
blogs. If you are dealing with an uber-geek, then you might find this
information encoded in their FOAF file. All that seems to be missing is
the button titled “Subscribe to X’s Brain”.

While it is
still a Work In Progress (and will continue to be for some time as I’d
like to get used to the idea and explore its possibilities) you’ll find
a button to ‘subscribe to my brain’ on the buttom left. Look out for
this :
Click on it and you’ll stare at a text-file. Save it to your desktop,
fire up your Newsaggregator (which I assume is something like NetNewsWire ). Look under
‘File’ for ‘Import Subscriptions’ and open the saved
BrainLeBruynL.opml-file. It will make a folder with name the present
date&time but you can always rename the folder to something like
‘Lieven’s brain’… Then you will look at something like
will give you a pretty good idea of what I was upto just now (posting a
few references on Cuntz and Berest to CiteULike while listening to Rebekka Bakken via iTunes. If
you’ll open up the folder you get an even clearer picture which tells
you that since last time I’ve posted three new references to CiteULike,I
listened to at least 10 new songs (Audioscrobbler only remember the last
10 ones) and that there is one new post here! You can also check on my
recent bookmarks at and over the next few weeks you may also
detect activity in a few other places (and I may add an arXiv scraper
just in case you think I’m not posting there anymore). Clearly, it is
up to you to unsubscribe to those regions of my brain you don’t care to
follow but the overall picture may give you a pretty accurate picture of
my present ‘state of mind’. In the coming posts I’ll take you through
the process of setting up a ‘subscribe to my brain’ for yourself and
I’ll explore (for myself) some of the possible uses of this scheme. The
ultmate aim being to see buttons like appear on
your site as well!

Published in web


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