10 reasons why RSS is still the bedrock of the social web

I must admit I've been thinking occasionally about whether my RSS feeds were still useful to me, what with the advent of Twitter, FriendFeed and other real-time tools/platforms. it seems that this is something Sam Diaz at ZDNet has been thinking too.

In response Dave Winer has posted a great article unpicking Sam's post and in the process has restored my faith in RSS (if I ever lost it). Go read it for yourself here and then subscribe to Dave's RSS feed for more great content.

Two key points to take from Dave's post include:

  • "My newspaper doesn't tell me how many articles I haven't read going
    back to the date of my birth. I bet it would be in the millions. Why
    should I care. This was the worst idea ever in news readers."
    < —– totally agree. This actually encourages me not to read stuff: when I have a large backlog of unread content I simple 'Mark all as read'
  • "If all the RSS on the planet were all of a sudden to stop updating (key
    point) the news would stop flowing. Any news guy or gal who thinks they
    could get by without RSS — think this through a bit more. We all love
    the Internet, but don't shut off your gas and electric because your
    computer and router wouldn't work without electricity. Same with RSS
    and news. RSS is how the news flows, whether you see it or not. If not
    RSS, something exactly like RSS."

Tags: RSS, Dave Winer

Social media and the dark side of doing PR

There’s a, well…. how can I put it… rather depressing post by former Friendly Ghost aka Brendan Cooper on the issue of ghost-blogging. It’s quite timely given my post on the subject the other week, although Brendan comes at the issue with a very different perspective.

The post begins:

The blogosphere is no garden of Eden. We can try to self-regulate, but in so doing we’re only exposing our own naïveté.

And it continues with the theme that, like it or not, the internet will evolve to match the current world of traditional media and PR.

Rather than clients appointing us to help them create sustainable, long-term relationships based on trust and respect using the social web, it will be business as usual where spin, ghost writing and paid advertorials are not only common place online but expected.

If that sounds a little bleak, Brendan tells us to quit our bleating and hammers home his point:

There will be a time, a year or two or three hence, in which we look back at the arguments against ghost blogging, and laugh. It lacks transparency. It lacks integrity. It lacks authenticity. Gimme a break.
In a year or two or three hence, the big money will be savvy. It will be pushing messages out in every digital channel available. The people you think are saying things, will not be saying them. Other people will.

I find this alarming both in the sense that Brendan thinks these thoughts but is also prepared to share them with others – although perhaps I *would* think that given that Edelman takes very much the opposite stance to Porter Novelli. In fact we’ve just launched a group blog about PR and the drive for transparency appropriately called Authenticities.

In a way, Brendan’s view kind of makes sense. He is a former copywriter and now social media planner – which suggests to me (and is alluded to in by Brendan his post) a strong tradition with top-down, command and control communications.

Arising from Brendan’s post are a number of interesting things.
Firstly, I personally believe Brendan is missing the entire challenge to traditional media and PR created by the internet. People don’t trust advertising, PR and marketing. That’s the power of social media – it is connecting real people with real people. That’s why it works. Faking blogs or social networks etc will similarly shut down genuine relationships built on trust.

Secondly, Brendan’s post is timely because if offers a startling counterpoint to the idea raised by Dave Winer and now picked up on by Doc Searls that maybe it’s time to get out of blogging. Blogging is becoming flogging, suggests Searls. Brendan seems to reinforce this idea – or at least confirm its growth.

Thirdly, I was blown away by the Cluetrain manifesto when I first read it. Brendan suggests in a comment that the Cluetrain Manifesto is “pretty naïve”. Um. Woah. I’m not even going to get into that one.

Technorati tags: ghost blogging, blogging, flogging, command and control, Cluetrain

Twixtr: Twitter for images?


Haven’t had a play around with Twixtr yet but it looks like an image-enabled Twitter. Sounds good, but Dave Winer has some other thoughts:

"Twitxr throws down a challenge to both Flickr and Twitter.

To Twitter: Scale, scale, scale and add payloads to the API.

To Flickr: Go ahead and do an event streamer for pictures."

Technorati tags: Twixtr, Twitter, Dave Winer

Does the social web socialise politics?

I had an email from a friend on Friday telling me she was backing Obama in the US elections. She’s not American but said that British politics was boring at the moment – although perhaps it is fairer to stay stagnant when compared to the thrill of an election.

Dave Winer and Doc Searls have some great insights about how US – and by extension, UK – politics could empower the citizen through a change in politicians’ attitudes towards the collective electorate.

Doc suggests that just as in commercial markets, politics is built around three areas:

1.    Transaction
2.    Conversation
3.    Relationship

Again, just as in business the links between all three are disproportionately weighted towards what Doc calls “big money” and away from (disenfranchising) the public/citizens.

The socialisation of the internet, disintermediation of business/politics and empowerment of individuals clearly has the potential to change this.

It all sounds good, however I’m conscious about not equating ‘socialisation’ with ‘socialism’ – although there are strong arguments for taking that line.

Read more from Doc here and Dave here.

There’s so much great political campaign work being pioneered in the US at the moment, but I wonder how much of it will cross the Atlantic in 2009?

Technorati tags: US elections, politics

*UPDATED* Twitter is about people, not technology… how many times?


*UPDATED*Further to my previous thoughts on online identity, Doc SearlsDave Winer has a nifty little post about how we engage with social networks (including Twitter) differently.

"When people get together to discuss Twitter, and perhaps other social
networks (and Twitter is that, a bare-bones social network), they often
discuss as if there were a common user experience, but this is a
misperception, there are many different experiences …

On Twitter I try to keep a ten percent ratio of people I follow over
people who follow me. For other people, maybe most, the ratio is
1-to-1, they follow approximately the same number of people as follow
them. Scoble follows
of people. For him Twitter is like a very fast chatroom. For me it’s
like weblogs.com on a busy day in 2002. I’ve seen people who follow 0
people, for them Twitter is a publishing environment. Very different
experiences. To each of them Twitter is a different product."

Very astute point (obviously)… and something PR and marketing people should take into account when thinking about measurement.

We are dealing with social tools being put to social uses. It’s not simply a case of measuring Twitter as Twitter. It’s about measuring Twitter as totally diverse group of Twitterers each using the tool for different purposes

That’s the difficulty (impossiblility?). And the usual metrics suspects probably aren’t the right people to be doing the measuring.

Technorati tags: social networks, Twitter, Dave Winer, measurement, metrics