Blogs, chaos, and neural nets

Testing guru Brian Marick thought that yesterday's item kind of muddles together several issues -- Ward Cunningham's FIT framework, testing, and the phenomenon of Windows rot. I agree. The distance from the opening point to the conclusion was, in retrospect, more than a comfortable stretch. The editor who lives inside my head told me that too, but not quite loudly enough. As I've mentioned elsewhere, amplification of that internal voice with external feedback is one of the great benefits of writing for the Web. Of course I've now subscribed to Brian's RSS feed, so that going forward I'll have one more window open onto the world of agile programming and testing.

How much RSS input can a person usefully process? There's got to be a limit, but I've picked up a bunch of feeds lately, bringing my total to 130, and it's still surprisingly manageable. Ray Ozzie says he's even more voracious. "I've got nearly 150 feeds that I monitor in one way or another," he writes. Of course monitoring doesn't mean exhaustively reading. Like Ray I scan my feeds and only read them selectively, but absolutely depend on the aggregate effect they create. "I won't truly understand what's going on out there unless I mix it up a bit," Ray says, adding that RSS is a way to "force some chaos" into his routine. I like that metaphor a lot. Here's another: the blog network is a nervous system, and we are the neurons. As another Ray -- Ray Kurzweil -- has pointed out:

The mission of the neuron is to render a judgment. It does this by summarizing the thousands of chaotic messages it receives into a coherent answer that reflects its particular view of the world. ... Key to this process is the concept of feedback, without which a net of neurons would be unable to learn. []

Hmm. Now that I think of it, shouldn't the news be an RSS feed as well as an email newsletter?

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