Debated Puzzled Over

Backwards Logic

I’ve been on the Internet for eight and a half years. Not long compared to some people, but long enough to have seen a lot of really, really confusing things. Things in every category about every topic imaginable.

Today, I have had to re-adjust my logic meter, because obviously there is a new zero point.

Adam Curry – yes, the ex-MTV VJ Adam Curry – is taking a stand in the RSS/n-echo war. To quote Homer Simpson, a freaky stand. Let’s dissect this.

>Time to come clean on an investment I made a year and a half ago. At the time, UserLand software had released a Mac OSX version of Radio and I was totally digging the built in news aggregator.

Seemingly normal. Everyone falls in love with news aggregators. I’ve made it obvious I’ve been pining over nntprss. No big deal here.

>I came up with a cunning plan: I asked Userland if I could purchase a pre-installed feed on their aggregator, which supports RSS xml feeds. I paid $10,000 for a one year license. To date I’ve been delighted with my purchase and although I haven’t checked recently, I’m pretty sure Userland still has me in the defaults.

$10,000 to include his feed by default? Well, hmm. While I find this to be a bizarre way to increase your traffic and user base, if Adam’s got the cash to throw around, that’s fine. I can’t begrudge him that. (I try and gain more readers by the quality of my writing – which just goes to show you why I don’t have any readers.)

>Besides investing in the technology with user licenses for Frontier and Radio UserLand, I ponied up to the bar and made a commitment to a format. And now I feel fucked.
>The $10k didn’t ‘just’ give me an automatic base within the userland community, it got pasted on web pages all over the world and I’ve built up an audience that consists of 50% aggergator users.

Adam, I think you’re confusing the medium with the message. The medium was RSS, sure. The message was your content. While RSS is a fine format, I don’t want to sit there and read feeds that aren’t full of interesting content.

As you said yourself, you’ve built an audience. But this audience is there because you’re using RSS, it’s because you have interesting content. RSS helps as a format, and provides another means of access, but ultimately it’s what you have to say that interests people, not the fact that what you say can be heard multiple ways.

The old saying always rings true: Content is king.

>But this investment is clearly being halted short by the (N)echo project.

This is where I refer everyone to Motivation at the wiki.

>So I’m invoking an age olde american tradition of letting my wallet do the talking. I will again invest $10k in aggregator default placements this year, but I will spread it around, to all developers who adhere to RSS2.0. Include (N)echo and you’re out of luck.

And here lies the most backwards logic I have seen this year. There is another format coming out, another possible means to distribute your content, and you’re bribing developers to NOT support it? Did anyone say “We’re going to remove our RSS 2.0 support from our aggregator and only support n-Echo”? Of course not. That’s about as silly as removing RSS 0.91 support when RSS 2.0 came out.

People in his comments have likened this to buying ads on an AM radio (no pun intended) station and then complaining that FM radio is coming along, and then trying to pay radio makers not to support both. I think this is apt.

Anil counters – “if you make an aggregator that supports any format that’s popular, I’ll give you forty dollars”. And this is what’s ultimately important – what do the end users want? Choices. If someone wants to read my RSS feed, let them. If someone wants to read my n-Echo feed, let them. Could you do something with your money other than trying to pre-emptively kill what may (or may not) be a useful technology?

P.S. I guess you won’t be giving to Userland again, huh?