Disposable media

I’m just crawling out from under a mountain of RSS feeds which gathered together while I’ve been travelling the last couple of weeks. I tried (really I did) to go through the feeds methodically and find the nuggets of stuff I’ve missed, but it’s really just impossible. At the end of the day, I’m just marking stuff as read which, in RSS terms, is as good as shoving it in the rubbish bin.

Which got me thinking about disposable media. It seems to me there is a hierarchy of disposability in media. Newspapers are more disposable than magazines – they don’t hang around the house as long. And magazines are more disposable than paperbacks.

But media can also become more disposable as a result of technology. A TV programme recorded on VHS had a certain amount of disposability, but its physical reality (and the fact that to record over it meant a rewind) meant there was an inbuilt non-disposability to it. But a programme recorded on a PVR suddenly becomes massively disposable. It’s the work of a microsecond to send that multi-million pound BBC costume drama hurtling into personal digital oblivion.

So might there come a time when “undo” becomes a vital social need? And how can my personal criteria for non-disposal – my attention.xml, perhaps – inform technology when I’m trying to delete something I’ve not read yet? Or, to put it in more simple terms, just what the hell have I just missed by marking two weeks worth of feeds as “read”? How do I find that out?

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