Academic RSS

Epsco and my school’s library have recently made some changes in their systems that promise to work wonders for my productivity. They’ve added a little feature that we in the blogging world have all come to know and love: a little something called RSS.

That’s right. Searches for journal articles and new library additions can now be assigned an RSS feed. This works wonders for me.

When I first heard about it, I was inrigued, but it didn’t go much beyond that. I was in the middle of a summer session lecture week at Gordon Conwell, and I was a little busy at the time. The way they do it here is that, for summer courses, they pile all lecturing into the first week or so, and then you have 2-3 weeks to complete the reading and written assignments. I didn’t have time for geek work. But, as a novelty, I created a feed for “pastoral counseling”, the name of my class, subscribed through Google Reader, and thought nothing more.

Then my in-laws came for a visit. By the time they left, I was frantically behind in my reading. This particular class requires I do 1500 pages of outside reading beyond the assigned text book, which is then counted as 10% of the grade. I had even less time for geek work than before. But I made a little space for catching up on my blogs. (The weblog: the intelligent man’s time waster.)

Today, I’m at the school, postponing my next incursion into the library to forage for more academic material, reading my morning dose of blogs. I hit the ‘next’ key. Interesting. Somebody’s written an article on pastoral counseling. I can use this for my quota. I mark ‘keep unread’. Next article. Also on pastoral counseling. Wow. Lucky for me. Must be another upsurging trend in the Christian Blogosphere. Funny, I thought everybody was all up on infant baptism and the age of responsibility. Then I look at the list. Apparently the next 20 articles are all on pastoral counseling. I scroll down. Actually the next 120 articles are on pastoral counseling. I am now doing homework.

If I ever want to read another non-academic article again, I will have to scan through 120 articles on pastoral counseling. Having weeded out the useless articles, when I come back to my reader, I’ll have to start the work of actually reading them before I get to my pleasure reading again. They will stay at the top of my reading until I’ve done *something* with them. Google and Epsco have conspired together to make me productive against my will.

This is just the initial rush. Whenever you subscribe to a new feed, you frequently get the backlog in a block. Eventually, articles will intersperse with each other according to when they were posted. Procrastination and productivity will intermingle seamlessly. I will be working when I don’t even know it.

For this I am almost grateful.

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