Jon Udell called today to say he's going on vacation. Of course, he's actually going to remain at home in his bedroom with a shotgun in case somebody reads this (not likely according to the Feedster 500) and decides to take advantage of his absence to steal the plans for the next 10 years of mainstream media. For those Incumbents following along with the Home version of InfoRouter, Udell has invented most of the necessary tools for surviving the RSS disintermediation--screencasting, del.icio.us mashups, and other arcane stuff that turns out to be super-important when we get around to reading what he wrote a year ago.
In order to take a vacation, you have to have a job from which to vacate. I've had a number of vacations over the past 5 years, but the name for them has been "fired" or "laid off" or other euphemisms for "It's time for you to start thinkiing about Steve Gillmor." Like I was worrying about Michael Gartenberg's career the whole time.
Careers are an interesting thing. If there is some continuity between jobs, a sense of momentum begins to assert itself. If you were editor-in-chief of one magazine, and went to another more prominent publication at a lesser role, that's OK. If you lose millions of dollars for one company in a senior position, you can move laterally to another fresh pile of cash to scatter, but not to a smaller more efficient company where you actually make money. Each move is evaluated through a complex algorithym derived from social history, type of car, time spent returning (or not) phone and email, and so on. Not computed are any metrics taught in unemployment line, self-actualization books, Tom Cruise appearances on Today, or exit interviews.
In the "old" days, like last year and every year before, August is the month for vacations. Since the bubble burst, some of these are non-paid vacations, such as the week off around July 4th and maybe Labor Day. In the RSS Balloon, August is the month to squeegee in almost every idea that became a conference that didn't have any open calendar days the rest of the year. With the success of Gnomedex, AlwaysOn, and the small window before PDC and Web 2.0, suddenly every day is sporting a Geek dinner. When Scoble hits the Valley, it's like the Big Apple Circus coming through each restaurant on the circuit. In fact, tonight appears to be the only geekfree meal this week. But it's early yet.
In years past I would use August to catch up on the piles of newspapers and trade pubs I'd accumulated. This year--no piles. I fired the Times and the Journal, relying on the blogosphere to point me at the link-heavy stuff and a few strategic maillists. It's amazing what you don't need to read once you've seen Peter O'Kelly's abstracts. It's becoming my secret 5th Law of Attention--it is far more efficient to identify what I don't care about than choosing between what I do. Thanks to RSS, I let the Times and Journal feeds accumulate, then throw out the chaff periodically, then throw out the stuff I've already been pointed to in the Rojosphere, then throw out the stuff Michael Gartenberg thinks is important, then focus in on anything Jason Calacanis considers a threat to his business, then wash, repeat, and watch Big Brother.
Now we're getting somewhere. The outline of the RSS vacation begins to emerge from the fog on the coast here above Pacifica. Ask not what your router can do for you, ask what you can do for your router. "What's the matter with me, I don't have much to say," sings Bob Dylan as he watches the river flow. In the New World Order, things just bubble up. I'll be sitting here watching my blood pressure boil over some pinhead at Microsoft explaining that I don't get it, when suddenly email arrives from Doc Searls telling me to forward an email at will. Evidently Doc didn't notice that said email was sent to me and cced to Doc. So I Skype Doc who won't answer because he's on his "real" phone to this same guy who's sent him the emminently forwardable email.
In fact, I've already done so, sending this feedback on the Attention Gang edition of the Gillmor Gang to the AttentionTrust board, which will be meeting this weekend for the first time. Now, Gmail being the wonderful service that it is, has threaded Doc's redundant command as part of the original forward I'd sent, which now includes some interesting feedback on the feedback from Trust board members Nick Bradbury and my partner in crime Seth Goldstein. As I circle Doc via Skype IM, I come to the braindead obvious conclusion that I should include Doc on the Advisory Board now that he has drunk the Attention koolaid (his words in IM) so that the software would tell him what it was telling me. Of course, I'll have to perform a Eudoraectomy to get Doc into Gmail, but that's just the kind of work I like to do on vacation.
So suddenly I do have much to say, and Gmail is saying it for me. It's my favorite kind of magic, the magic of all seeming right and logical with the world, yet somehow alert and open to the next dumb idea that will change things again. That's my idea of relaxing, knowing that I've done the best I can to prepare myself and my family and friends to greet the new dawn, yet kept enough of the spark of argument alive to keep the heart pumping. As to vacation, I'll settle for a little process that, instead of labeling the down time as idle, calls it vacation, and feeds the soul. And thanks to Michael Gartenberg for all the free time--it's the one indispensible service I can count on.