The planetary systems continue to expand &mdash I now run two: LinuxChix Live and Planet Twisted. jdub is going to give a talk at SLUG soon about the community building aspects of planets: suffice to say it’s a better way of getting to know people than project mailing lists, although Planet Twisted will be an interesting experiment given that the developers also have a tight IRC community &mdash the planet may not have much to add to the interactions between developers, especially since the bulk of the developers use LiveJournal. LinuxChix is enormous by comparison and running the aggregator has given me a chance to glance at the writing of people who I would normally only vaguely recognise by name.
I think they’re a good resource for community outsiders too. I’m not involved in GNOME at all, but I still like scanning Planet GNOME. The advogato recentlog is by far and away the most successful part of the experiment and people enjoy reading it despite the fact that most entries are by people they don’t know who are coding things they don’t use. It’s probably a better way of discovering interesting people or projects than some of the more formal methods of tracking relationships: advogato’s trust metric, or LiveJournal friends pages, for example. It connects you to people with something in common with you but who aren’t part of your community. Further, aggregators expose you to a small amount of their writing &mdash much better than a dessicated list of interests and a line listing the steps by which you can trace their relationship to you via mutual friends.