We thank Chris Pirillo of Lockergnome, who today is attempting to clear up Digital Deliverance’s “deep misunderstandings of the RSS feed and its accomplaying blog technology.” He has been leading a charge that publishers should abandon e-mail publishing in exchange for RSS feed syndication. Because his opinions have been picked up by some mainstream publishing pundits, we think his misinformation has been hurting mainstream publishers. That’s why we’ve been countering it. He now writes:
- “An RSS feed allows micropublishers a place akin to a shop in the mall, while a traditional, static, website only gives them a store out on the edge of town. They still need to advertise the business in some way, location notwithstanding.”
We now deeply understand that his previous article, Why RSS Will Kill E-Mail Publishing, was only about micropublishers and not about all publishers, something that his previous articles omitted.
We also now understand that because Pirillo calls them ‘static‘, micropublishers must not be constantly able to update their sites. We agree that blog software makes a site easy to update, but we didn’t previously know that regular Web sites can’t be constantly updated. We’ve made note to ask Janine Warner to rewrite her instructional books on Macromedia DreamWeaver about that and we’ll also alert the folks at NetObjects Fusion.
It’s also good to hear that using RSS is the equivalent of “having a shop at the mall.” We haven’t heard that phrase since the early day of the Web, when having a Web site was like “having a shop at the mall.” What doomed that metaphor then was the proliferation of Web sites. And that’s already happened with RSS. For example, Syndic8 already counts more than 38,000 RSS feeds! Quite a huge mall!
- “Employing high-priced e-mail publishing firms will not change the fact that people don’t want to see any more spam, period. They are getting sick of e-mail altogether. Just because a number of high-profile companies still do it doesn’t make it right. You cannot forget the consumer in the equation when you’re [developing] a marketing plan, and continuing to force-feed spam [to] people is no way to market any product. As well, while large companies are claiming big numbers of subscribers and no downturn, that’s because when people are no longer interested in an e-mailed product, they most often don’t bother to unsubscribe – they simply delete. So subscriber lists are no reliable indication of the number of people actually reading a publication.”
We presume that the line “Employing high-priced e-mail publishing firms will not change the fact ” alludes to how two of our partners also run the e-mail publishing application service provider PublishMail LLC. Although they do currently serve six daily newspapers each with more than 100,000 print circulation, they also serves more than 100 weekly newspapers nationwide a particularly penurious clientele that would never be able to afford high-priced firms.
Perhaps he’s never been in a competitive business, but Pirillo apparently doesn’t realize the fact that e-mail publishing vendors (and even e-mail marketing vendors) are in an extremely competitive businesses and their rates have been declining according to Moore’s Law for the past five years. After all, if large numbers of e-mail were expensive to send, then spammers wouldn’t be e-mailing.
Moreover, none of the examples we’d previously cited in other response to Pirillo used high priced firms. In fact, the ones we cited used in-house solutions or inexpensive but professional e-mail publishing application providers. The examples we previously cited focused on that professional angle: employing legitimate vendors who know how to solve the problems. We never wrote anything about high-priced vendors. So, his phrase “Employing high-priced e-mail publishing firms will not change the fact ” is a rhetorical red herring, an attempt to make it seem like the ‘big boys’ are picking on him and that his is the only solution for the average person.
- Slamming and insulting small business owners because of their lack of big budgets, and suggesting they are somehow less valuable because of that, is not any way to make one’s own advice any more valuable, either.
is the same rhetorical device. Do notice that in none of our previous responses to Pirillo have we ever slammed, insulted, or disparaged any small business owners (indeed, Digital Deliverance is one) or questioned their budgets. His rhetoric merely attempts to distract your attention.
people don’t want to see any more spam, period. They are getting sick of e-mail altogether. Just because a number of high-profile companies still do it doesn’t make it right.
This apparently is meant to infer that firms like The New York Times, Financial Times, Economist, and The Wall Street Journal are spamming people. After all, those were the high profile companies we had mentioned. We weren’t aware that a solicited e-mail of the top stories from The New York Times was a spam, but thanks to Pirillo we now deeply understand that it is.
- “You cannot forget the consumer in the equation when you’re [developing] a marketing plan, and continuing to force-feed spam [to] people is no way to market any product.“
Ditto. We thank Pirillo for letting us deeply understand that organizations like The New York Times, Financial Times, Economist, and The Wall Street Journal are forgetting the consumer in their business plans and are force feeding spam.
- “As well, while large companies are claiming big numbers of subscribers and no downturn, that’s because when people are no longer interested in an e-mailed product, they most often don’t bother to unsubscribe – they simply delete. So subscriber lists are no reliable indication of the number of people actually reading a publication.“
We agree that this often happens. And, as we’d mentioned in our earlier responses to Pirillo, that is why the actual opening rates and clickthrough rates are more reliable indications of the number of people who actually read an e-mailed publication. We’ve said that all along. If someone has clicked through a link on an e-mail, the chances are they’ve actually read it.
- “What is more permanent is that an RSS feed provides anyone who wishes to communicate with a large number of people the ability to do so, free of spam concerns, and with the assurance that the message will go where it’s intended to go, unhampered by unknown, unforeseeable problems at the receiving end.“
In reality, a RSS feed doesn’t convey the entire content of a blog entry unless that entry was short. It instead truncates anything more than a few hundred words and the publisher hoping that readers will then clickthrough to the actual (blog) Web site. Spam on blogs is becoming an increasing problem, as the BBC and Wired.com each reported last month and The Feature coincidentally reported today. We’re also pleased to see that veteran blogger Mitch Ratcliffe‘s blog is back online today after a week of having been knocked offline. (We learned about that from veteran blogger J.D.Lasica‘s new blog, who’s old blog also went kaput on him a few months ago.) It’s good to understand that there is an online vehicle free of spam and assured of operating unhampered by unknown, unforeseeable problems at either end.
We’d previosuly written that most consumers won’t use RSS even if that technology is built into other software or even into the computer operating system, and cited the examples of how most consumers don’t use the Usenet newsreaders were built into e-mail apps or the Active Desktop feed receiving capabilities that were built into the Windows operating system. Pirillo responds:
- “The reason that aggregators will be used while Usenet and Active Desktop [are, comparatively,] not is that aggregators are easy to use and unobtrusive. You choose [only the] updates [that you find important], and that’s what you get. Right now there is at least one aggregator I know of, Bloglines, that could be easily used by anyone who has been online before. (For reasons that should be obvious, RSS feeds are of no value to anyone without a computer and online access.)
“Active Desktop and PointCast gave me limited choices, along with a lot of stuff I didn’t want, which interfered with my other work at the computer (and Usenet has always been a mystery to me). I’ve never been able to configure it properly, so I gave up on that a long time ago. They are both completely different than RSS aggregators.”
So, “aggregators” (RSS newsreader software) will be used, although the easy-to-use and unobtrusive Usenet and Active Desktop softwares were not, because the aggregators are easy-to-use and unobtrusive? As for Active Desktop, it gives you only the feeds you ask, like RSS does. If Pirillo got anything he didn’t want via an Active Desktop feed, that is because those feeds, like RSS feeds, send whatever their publishers wants to send. And we’re sorry to hear that the decade-old Usenet system is a mystery for this techno-guru to use. Ditto his:
- “Once my local newspaper gets an RSS feed, I’d probably look at it daily, too. I get an e-mailed update from one newspaper, but most often it gets deleted inadvertently, so I don’t see that one very often, either.”
Gotta’ watch that Delete key! Nevertheless, we thank Pirillo for correcting our “deep misunderstanding” that his previous article, Why RSS Will Kill E-Mail Publishing, wasn’t about e-mail publishing in general but only about how some micropublishers might consider also using RSS. As indeed we are.
If you’re a micropublisher operating a site aimed at people who might be using RSS newsreader software, take Pirillo’s advice. But if you’re not a micropublisher or your site isn’t aimed at people who might not be using RSS newsreader software, don’t abandon your site’s use of solicited e-mail publishing.