December 28, 2004

Dodging and Weaving

Forbes seems to be a bit worried about RSS Feeds. (registration required)

{...}By Internet standards RSS is ancient, invented circa 1997, but it is just now catching on, in part because of the millions of blogs constantly generating new content and in part because of new RSS search services like that sort through the missives like an e-mail reader. is now monitoring more than 5 million RSS-enabled blogs. Yahoo's free MyYahoo service, revamped in September, offers a built-in RSS reader. Microsoft is tinkering with its own. Google is pushing a similar syndication technology called Atom. Forrester Research analyst Charlene Li guesses that 2 million people are reading RSS deliveries regularly. ( broadcasts 43 different feeds.)

You need a Web service or reader software to grab an RSS feed. Point one to a Web site and you're done. Much hype has swirled around RSS' presumed ability to allow blogs to subvert big media. That's a romantic presumption. The likelier disruption will come in areas such as classifieds, search and e-commerce. RSS lets big companies increase their now streams catalog updates to its Web resellers-while letting little guys into the game. LiveDeal, a new Ebay competitor, touts its use of RSS as its differentiating factor. Users don't have to keep coming back to its site to check for new items.

RSS-based searchers Technorati, Topix, Feedster and DayPop look for instantly updated material, thus providing a different slice of the Web than Google does, one based on freshness rather than relevancy. Down the road, online advertising might mutate into something wrapped around RSS streams-if fewer people surf news sites or use traditional search services. Feedster has already started incorporating sponsored links with its RSS headlines.{...}

Well, geez, Forbes. Maybe if I didn't have to register to read your content and then get nailed with three popups, I wouldn't be thinking about switching over to RSS. This, of course, doesn't mention my travails in having to find the small "skip ad" button on the full page ad you forced on me before I could register, or the annoying ad on the page which, without my consent, started playing some very loud chatter hocking Sybase's wares. But I'm not really bothered by the ads. I can deal with them. What does bother me is that I'm still using Internet Explorer (despite the husband's desperate pleas for me to switch to Mozilla), and as such, there are holes in my browser. Through these holes your advertisements tried to insert spyware onto my machine. Fortunately, I have Spybot running on my machine and it blocked the insertion of two data mining cookies. Malware bothers me greatly. And it is through sites like yours---ones with an overwhelming amount of advertising---that most people's machines become overloaded with data mining cookies, that not only invade their privacy in the name of market research, but also cause machines to crash and burn.

I opened myself up to all of this abuse because I wanted to link to one lousy article that I found interesting and that I'd originally read in the dead-tree edition of your magazine.

RSS skips right past all of this and gets to the good stuff. And you're worried about how it might affect e-commerce? Well, might I suggest if you dialed down your advertising to a state less resembling a forcefully inserted anal probe, perhaps you wouldn't have to be worried about how RSS feeds could screw with the current e-commerce model?

Posted by Kathy at December 28, 2004 10:23 AM

Thanks for the info - I'm new to blogging and researching RSS feeds. Very informative post, and an interesting read on spyware which bothers me as well. Thanks!

Posted by: John S. at December 28, 2004 10:36 AM

Wow, well said.

Posted by: Scott P at December 28, 2004 03:45 PM
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