RSS, OPML and the XML platform.
Copyright 2012 World Readable
Two years ago yesterday, I made the worst mistake of my life. I'm rewriting the Rmail engine for Reblinks and I'm getting closer and closer to an Alpha release. In the first version, I intend to support polling of RSS 2.0 or compatible feeds. I'm going to add SMTP support to begin, then MetaWeblogAPI and finally Twitter. Ya, I don't really like Twitter, but you geeks sure do. Polling can be set for either daily or hourly. The engine will be stateless, unlike Rmail. That is, I won't have to cache feeds. We'll see how this goes. I'm going to rely on pubDate to determine whether an item should be sent. I was hoping to have this ready at the end of March, but I've been really lazy this last month plus.
Yesterday, I moved the blog and domain for The RSS Blog to a new server. Within an hour, a user reported a problem. I investigated and realized that FeedBurner was now picking up the wrong feed. It appears that it was not resolving the IP address with every pull, but rather using a cached IP address. I figured this was a temporary situation, but now it's 20 hours later and FeedBurner was still picking up the wrong feed. Worse, I noted that the feed itself had not been updated in those 20 hours. I pinged the FeedBurner server and that didn't resolve the problem. I ReSynced my feed and that did fix the problem. I have to ask myself how many people are RSS/FeedBurner savvy enough to have fixed this problem. FeedBurner really isn't for RSS savvy people like myself, but rather for the Joe-Blogger who doesn't want to manage his own RSS feed. More and more, I'm reading about user problems on FeedBurner. Just search for FeedBurner on Google Blog Search and most all you find is users struggling with the service. Somebody at Google should be doing this search daily and helping these guys. Is this service dying?
I think it's time for us all to call it quits with FeedBurner.
Lot's of noise about FriendFeed these days. IMHO, FriendFeed+Twitter is like a really bad implementation of Facebook's implementation of Twitter. The ability to respond to status updates is built right into Facebook, whereas FriendFeed+Twitter are too separate applications. I use Twitter, but when people give me links to FriendFeed, I simply don't know what to do. I'm sure FriendFeed has its own advantages, unfortunately I don't know what they are and I'm pretty certain most of your readers don't either.
Jeff Nolan wrote an interesting article title "Is Twitter Killing RSS?" I want to respond and decided to respond here on The RSS Weblog, rather than in Jeff's comments, as I'd like everybody to read this follow-up.
RSS is a protocol and Twitter is an application. Many publishers are using RSS-to-Twitter gateways to update their Twitter account when new items are publiched on their blog. The protocol and application are not competitive at all. In fact, they are complimentary. Twitter is not an RSS-killer, but rather a use-case for RSS.
Further, Twitter not only can import RSS, but it exposes an RSS feed so that you can inject your Twitter data into other applications. Many social websites are trying to import your Twitter updates. That RSS feed is likely the easiest way to do exactly that. Hmmm! Must play.
Last, could Twitter replace RSS for audience acquisition (as Jeff suggests)? Of course it could for some publishers, but it'd be a bad idea. Remember that Twitter is mostly used by us geeks. Most people are not trying to target geeks, but rather are targeting people like my wife, kids, parents, brothers and sisters. Not one of them have any clue what Twitter is and obviously don't use it. On the other hand, many of them are using RSS even though they really don't know what RSS is. That's because RSS is a protocol (under the hood). Twitter is just an application. Someday, the geeks will get bored with Twitter and move on. RSS is a protocol of the Web and it's not going anywhere.
Yesterday, I had a brief Twitter discussion with Rober Scoble. It started when Scoble and a few of the Web 2.0 bloggers re-twitted an article that suggest Google is gonna buy Twitter. I added the following to the conversation.
Twitter is a lot like del.icio.us, Digg and MyBlogLog. Where are they now? They were geek fads. Twitter will fade.
I'm willing to bet $1,000 you are wrong. Wanna put up?
if Digg is a "fad" then I want a "fad" too: http://siteanalytics.compete.com/Digg.com/?metric=uv
I wasn't willing to bet $1,000, but I did respond that I'd take the bet for $100. I never heard back on the bet. Hopefully he takes me up on it.
Further, you look at the stats Scoble provided reguarding Digg. I wouldn't put any stock in web stats, but if you look at Alexa web stats for Digg, then you get another story. Brandon Wirtz suggested that Digg traffic has been dropping 7% monthly for 6 months. I'm not gonna argue the stats, but what I see is that uber-geeks like Scoble have moved on from Digg after evangelizing it for a year or two. All that you have to do is look at Scoble's Digg profile and note that it hasn't been active for several months now. The same is true of Steve Rubel and most all of the other Web 2.0 evangelists.
If you look at the other Web 2.0 fads, like del.icio.us. You can see that some geeks continue to use it (Steve Rubel), while others have long stopped (Scoble). If you look at the web stats for these Web 2.0 fad websites, then you can see that most are fading (delicious).
Basically, the Web 2.0 websites of the last decade begin with a small group of uber-geeks. The site is picked up by Steve and Scoble from the uber-geeks and blasted to their mostly geeky audience. The geeks in turn blog about it and tell their friends. The audience jumps on the bandwagon and the websites receive tremendous growth for a year or two. This is classic WOM (Word of Mouth) viral growth seeded thru the top geek bloggers.
Unfortunately, Steve and Scoble get bored and move onto newer things. They neglect to blog about Digg and even stop using it entirely. The WOM funnel breaks down and the website's traffic begins to fade.
I'm gonna call this the Scoble factor.
This doesn't apply to non-geek websites like MySpace or Facebook, but even MySpace has experienced a decline as users move over to Facebook.