Relevant to my interests.
from inessential by Brent Simmons.
I am loving this. I just went to check on the pistachio recall. I was checking out a link to FDA recall notices when I found this:
I’m kind of stoked on that – a perfect utilization of news feed technology.
Now if we could just get the FDA to use Twitterfeed to push those to their Twitter account…
This is a continuation of a post from 2009-02-10.
While the post-IPO price of Google shares was still inflating the company engaged in a dot com buying spree perhaps only previously rivaled by giants like Yahoo! and IAC. They shopped for small groups serving this niche and consolidating Google’s control in this proto-industry before any of the statups could IPO (I’d speculate that futurist thinkers at Google may have also detected competition might one day develop from some of these companies). Bookending the series of acquisitions were Blogger.com and FeedBurner.com.
At first I didn’t understand why they would want to get into the business of blogging, if you could even call it that. At the time, we were all still looking at traditional commerce sites which looked like the golden goose. Back in 2003 we were still nursing our wounds from the bursting of the bubble. We were impressed by the survivors – eBay, PayPal, Amazon.com and busters like toys.com and pets.com were not yet forgotten.
That, and The Google.
What Googlers got, and we didn’t, was the significance of the nature of their revenue stream.
And perhaps some insight into the inherent narcissism in human nature.
Blogging puts you on stage. Even if no one is watching, it is a thrill. It’s like going streaking with a blindfold. You go out there letting it all hang out and you have no idea if anyone is, or will be, looking.
Remember, hardly anyone was using Facebook or Myspace at the time. The big social network was Friendster, and the big blog service was Livejournal. Privacy wasn’t so much a concern, because you wanted people to look. Exhibitionism is an extension of narcissism. “I am so pleasing to look at that I know you’ll want a peek.”
The folks at Google have done a great job of integrating the Blogger service, pairing it up with their Single Sign-On technology so that once you are logged in to your Gmail account you are logged into it and all of their other services. This is important because they are building a fabric of collaborative services that when combined are far more powerful than the sum of their individual capabilities (see Voltron for more information).
Unfortunately, Google seems to have dropped the ball on integrating one its more recent acquisitions. Google bought Feedburner back in 2007 and it is still having trouble getting the service to run smoothly. It is also slow to integrate its single sign-on technology into the service. The company has suffered much criticism as a consequence of this. Nevertheless, they have done a remarkable job of positioning themselves to control every stage of the means of production.
This buying spree may be the herald to a revolution in communications that will dwarf the arrival of television programming. And Google wants to make sure it owns, and consequently controls, as much of the distribution pipeline as possible.
As I mentioned, e-mail is increasingly growing to be a tired marketing medium. Increasingly, consumers will opt to view content at will, and consuming feed syndication is the means by which they will do this. More often than not, savvy consumers will opt out of e-mail distribution subscriptions for even their most adored products and brands.
Additionally, the Facebook experiment has proven that not do many of us enjoy putting our lives on display, we also have a voyeuristic penchant for peeking behind the curtains of the private lives of our friends and associates. More robust and granular privacy controls are allowing us to limit unwanted to exposure, while effectively controlling the permissions of those to whom we are “exposing” ourselves.
The news feed reader is the both the sieve and the spigot through which the media consumer will come to guide the flow of data they view. The contemporary web surfer will have a list of sites they check on a regular basis for new content. Professional blogging and conventional journalism sites will publish new content on a daily or realtime basis. The latter schedule is the ideal fit for the news feed consumer.
No longer will media consumers subscribe to e-mail updates or periodic electronic newsletters. Using electronic messaging for this purpose has always gone against the grain of the original intent of e-mail: bidirectional – not unidirectional broadcast – asynchronous, instant, interpersonal composition. The mailbox will once again regain its status as the sanctuary for personal interaction. Occasionally, personalized automated messages will show up for things like password reminders and banking notices. But, the mass marketing e-mail will make way for the news feed.
E-commerce sites should begin preparing for the transition. Now is the time to start subscribing readers to feeds, hiring talented and engaging writers to combine original written content with marketing promotions. Imagine corporate blog sponsorship on a whole new level.
Gizmo Feed, embedded product links to bestbuy.com in every post.
Writers Feed, with links to amazon.
Survivorman Feed, linking to REI.
And so on.
And all this before mobile web and location awareness gain mainstream adoption.
My dad is nursing an interest in blogging and just asked me a question about how blog posts work with e-mail.
It was a “yes or no” kind of question.
As is my style, I responded with the following treatise, which, to avoid ennui, I’ve broken into two parts.
Does it make it easy for the blogger to send out copies of his work to an address list he has (postings), and what if any limits are there to frequency of mailing, and quantity of addressees?
Before I answer this question, I’d like to see if I can help you skip forward into the “future” a couple of years to show you how the shape of web content delivery is, and, over the last few years, has been, changing and do my best to describe the path down which I believe we are heading.
You have already heard of RSS and Atom. These are primary examples of the Web Feed syndication technical framework.
Until recently, I didn’t “get” RSS. I could see why some people might use it and why some people might find it convenient, but I couldn’t understand what the big deal was. I’d tried it, but I guess I wasn’t surfing enough – more importantly, I hadn’t yet created a feed and I wasn’t using a reader.
Generally, there is a shift underway in web content delivery methodology. That shift is away from the traditional content distribution channel, e-mail, and toward something called web feed syndication, and its associated technologies, Aggregation and Readers. This is partially a precursor to the eventual development Negroponte’s concept of a Digital Butler (services like Netflix, Last.fm and Pandora are already making great strides in this area), but is also as a matter of inherent convenience.
As is currently the norm, most sites offering content welcome you to register your e-mail address and offer to send you electronic mail messages notifying you of new and updated content on their site, conveniently delivering the e-mail message with embedded hyperlinks that will take you back to their site. This is also a technique used by commerce sites as a business driver. We all just got through the double deluge of Holiday and New Year sales.
The big problem with this is that, for the end user, with just a few exceptions, the content delivery is pretty much just regarded as junk mail and is usually treated as such. Anyone who has tried commerce marketing through e-mail will tell you it has a fairly tall conversion ratio. But when you’re sending out a mass e-mail your costs are the same whether your distribution list consists of one person or one million.