But recently, someone asked for an RSS feed from the news stories they post on their website, which meant I had to go and find out what this RSS thing was and how it worked.
Having made an RSS feed (which for those that haven't investigated it yet, is a way of automatically distributing clickable news headlines in a way that can be easily fed into all sorts of applications), I decided that maybe I should have an RSS reader of my own, and actually try to keep up to date with my various fields that way, rather than just randomly flailing with Google search terms in my normal disjointed manner.
I didn't want a separate application or yet another bookmark, so I thought I'd have a go with iGoogle, and make a homepage for myself with all those blog links and newsfeeds that had been cluttering up my bookmarks bar.
Much to my surprise, I'm actually using the damn thing! I am easily keeping up to date with 5 of the more useful 'industry' blogs (plus a couple of 'interest' ones). Is this because I am suddenly a wonder of efficiency and application? Is it because it's easier to see the latest posts and be tempted to read them? Well, sort of but I have to admit, that is not the main reason that suddenly I am actually looking at my home page.
The reason is a monster. Having set up my iGoogle page, I stuck all my bookmarked news RSS feeds onto it, and noticed the 'Select Theme' option. It's nice to have a theme, so I quickly chose what looked like a random sea-and-city-scape to pretty up the top of my new home page. I wasn't expecting to look at it often, but what the hell. However, what I'd not even noticed was the presence of the Monster. He is orange and cheery, and he moves!
The theme changes lighting according to my timezone, and as time passes, the monster wanders around the city, is attacked by helicopters, or occasionally meets another monster, or a giant robot. I find myself popping back to see what he is up to now. (In case you were wondering, he's picked up a submarine and is examining it). Once I'm there, I do actually check the headlines and pick up on New Stuff, some of which has already been quite interesting.
I bet no more grown-up form of sticky content would work half so well on me. Someone at Google knows their stuff. Thank you Google, and thank you Monster.
(I don't know if anyone reading this uses iGoogle, but if you do and you want the monster, he's in the theme called JR)