Must. Kill. Bears.

It’s terribly upsetting to discover that icons of your childhood have fallen on hard times.

Sadly, it seems that the once kind-hearted inhabitants of Care-A-Lot, the Care Bears, have abandoned their mission of trying to bring joy and harmony to the World, in favour of violent organised crime. Unconfirmed reports suggest that the collapse of their Unity Government (the Care Bear Cousins withdrew from the coalition), coupled with the Kingdom of Caring’s economic instability in light of the global financial crisis, resulted in irrevocable social breakdown. And now, the Bears have embarked on a savage, gun-toting rampage though the streets. They represent a clear and present danger. They must be stopped. At all costs. And this time, it’s personal.

No, I’m not mad; though it seems contributors to iGoogle’s supply of gadgets are completely bonkers. (Warning- this link to Evil Care Bears does contain bad language, and may result in the gratuitous exploitation of cartoons)

Not only can I open fire on 1980s children’s television characters (today I wantonly butchered 29 bears; less Care-A-Lot, more Kill-A-Lot), I can also receive daily photos of Ashley Judd, and subscribe to The Kitten Daily. Or was it Kitten of the Day? Day of the Kittens maybe? Anyway, the point is, how mental is iGoogle?  

To be honest, I can’t really see the point of it- from my perspective, having everything on one page, through one provider is, well, boring.

Not having a smartphone, I’m guessing that iGoogle’s functionality mirrors the way in which users engage with Apps, and this seems to make more sense in a mobile context. Whilst I did enjoy selecting the Garfield background, and personalising my gadgets, the novelty of it all wore off quite quickly.

However, my judgement may be a little clouded, given that I recently sat through an 11 week module taught by a pro-everything-online zealot, who banged-on incessantly about ‘Freemium’, ‘Citizen Journalism’ & Jeff Jarvis; as a result, my instant adverse reaction to iGoogle was:

Is there anything Google won’t do?

I genuinely have some reservations about Google, whose motto: ‘Dont’ be Evil’, has morphed into: ‘Do be Everywhere’ & Everything’. I’m uncomfortable with the idea of Google running my life and knowing even more about my personal information portfolio. I’ve also taken an extreme disliking to the new Google search facility, with its suggested answers and awkward, arrow-button-hating scrolling style. 

Which is why my head dropped when I saw we were looking at Google Reader. I haven’t used my account properly for months, and at one point actually cancelled my original Google registration. Essentially I’m an old-fashioned fuddy-duddy, who prefers plodding my way through the Internet of 2011 like a 19th century Hansom Cab:

Slowly. Messily. Bumpily.

Except that, reading through Upgrade (and an excellent blog post) I began re-considering the use of the reader and feeds, and then suddenly remembered an epiphany I had a few months back. I’ve always thought that using RSS and aggregators was the preserve of professional people who need to track vast amounts of information and data.

But I’ve come to realise two things:

  1. That’s now me. I’m an Information Professional.
  2. That’s also me. I’m a part-time student.

The fact is, Google Reader could prove to be an invaluable resource for content gathering and storage; and the idea of being able to collate literature searches has opened my eyes to new possibilities for research.

I’m always going to feel uncomfortable with the current (and possibly irreversible) trend towards an information culture based around passive receivership- expecting everything to be done for us. I feel lazy enough as it is at times, and am desperately trying to proactively engage my brain, in a vain attempt to counter a rapidly decreasing attention span. But I suspect I’m going to need all the help I can get over the next three years, and Google Reader + RSS + [insert academic support tool here] might just be the way forwards.

*For legal reasons, I should clarify that in no way have the Care Bears ever been associated with any form of illegal/criminal activity, nor are they homicidal maniacs. Wish Bear has not changed his name to Death-Wish Bear. I have not committed Bearicide.

**Since writing the bulk of this posting, I’ve gone back to Google Reader and subscribed to all the marvellous 23 Things City blogs & Twitter feeds. One small step etc…

***I’ve decided to hang onto iGoogle. Just in case…

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4 thoughts on “Must. Kill. Bears.

  1. matthew says:

    This is an excellent post! Although I am embarrassed to say that for some reason I know the correct term is ursicide. How many times can one have legitmate reason for saying ursicidal maniac? So far in my life: once. This time.
    So how do I know? I’m not entirely sure.

  2. RMG says:

    Love your post! And come on, you must have guessed Urs-something!
    Igoogle is dividing opinion – some people love it, other just don’t find it useful. Some people do want all stuff in one place, but it has made you think about google domination of the world (in which case you’ll like week 9 when we look at other search engines)
    Rss is very useful particularly for keeping up with research. Researchers love rss when I’ve shown it to them in keeping up to date workshops.

    And yes, we all try to hold on to our youth, but if you’re student, you’ll be researching so will need this stuff, and yes you are an information person so all this stuff is great for you! And actually it isn’t the preserve of serious and dull data eaters at the top of out professional tree. All this stuff is out there for anyone to use.
    Getting serious now, but knowledge is for everyone. Don’t forget that ‘knowledge is power’…
    Rowena 23 Things team

    • You know what, I started to go down the Ursi route, but I couldn’t get it to sound right in my head, so I kept with the Bear theme for comedic consistency…(cough)… I’ve realised that I need to start engaging with things like RSS and Google Reader because, in the long run, it’s probably going to save me a great deal of time and frustration. It’s the idea of merging all of these different things together which is where I struggle- in my mind, I still see much of these Web 2.0 products as separate entities, rather than as part of one rich & wide, knowledge accessing tapestry.

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