free html hit counter Declaring the Relationship (RSS related) - John Battelle's Search Blog

Declaring the Relationship (RSS related)

By - January 05, 2004

Neat: Winer has created a feature that allows folks to see who subscribes to their blogs via RSS. I’ve always wanted to know who cares enough about Searchblog to check it regularly via RSS. In fact, I think such a connection is one of the cooler things about blogs and the web – the two-way conversation is declared and nurtured, the community is known. It’s like an email subscription, but more intimate. But some folks prefer anonymity with their RSS habits, and I respect that as well. How do you all feel about it?

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9 thoughts on “Declaring the Relationship (RSS related)

  1. Fazal Majid says:

    Call me jaded and cynical, but I am sure that communications channel will be abused by spammers, the way comments and referrer logs are today…

  2. Gen Kanai says:

    I agree with Fazal.

    No slight to Dave but to give credit where credit is due, it should be noted that Bill Kearney has had such functionality built into for over 2 years, supporting not only OPML, but also OCS and RSS.

  3. Scot Hacker says:

    To reiterate my thoughts on this from an email thread:

    – As a reader, I don’t want any authors to know that I’m subscribed to their feeds (and more importantly, when I unsubscribe 🙂

    – As an author, I couldn’t care less who is subscribed to my feeds.

    – I don’t consider an RSS subscription to represent a relationship between author and reader.

    – I put great weight on anonymity.

    – If I want a relationship with a blog author, I’ll engage that relationship through the comments that I leave on their posts.

    – I see an RSS subscription as little more than a bookmark. And I see an RSS feed as little more than a different view of a homepage – same protocol, same content. Slightly different means of delivery and consumption.

    All that said, I think it’s cool that Winer figured out how to do it! And full respect to authors and readers who want something like this. It just isn’t my cup.

  4. Openness is a prerequisite of a participative democracy; this is a step in that direction. Hooray! Now if only I could figure out how to sign up…

  5. ben temchine says:

    I think this a very interesting aspect of interactive media. as a published writer you know, on a theoretical level, that your stuff is being read. by whom, how often and why are not even answerable on a theoretical level, so the relationship (sorry scot: the point of the writing is the relationship or why bother) between an author and his/her audience becomes…thin. dry. virtual.

    communication that anonymous, overtime, is depressing. besides the line between reader and creator is disappearing, so the special status of an author in a publication will start to diminish. that equality brings opportunity. the reader knows who you are; now you know who the reader is. human contact re-enters through the clackety-clack of the keyboard.

  6. Luca says:

    It is wonderful! I like it very much…and I upload my OPML just two days ago. Bye

  7. I hear Scot’s points, but I disagree with two, and this feels like a subjective matter, in that either approach is fine. But as to why I disagree:

    “As an author, I couldn’t care less who is subscribed to my feeds.”

    I care very much – when we were starting Wired and The Standard, I pored over the files of our email newsletter readers, attempting to divine patterns in the readership that would help me understand their information needs better. Also, personalizing the audience makes me feel more responsible as an author. Just my view.

    “I don’t consider an RSS subscription to represent a relationship between author and reader. “

    I believe that any act of publishing is a relationship, and any audience a community. RSS is a conduit toward understanding and strengthening that releationship, in my view. Again, the opposite can be argued, so this is not a plemic, but an opinion….

  8. Anonymity is one of the key arguments in favor of RSS supplanting email newsletters. The ability to generate a feed’s subscriber list would therefore at the least have to be secure opt-in controlled – but then, we’re back to the current email model – which as we all painfully know, does not prevent spam and other abuses.

    Cool tech, bad feature.

  9. Betsy Devine says:

    Dave’s new feature is opt-in. My sub list is public only because I uploaded the OPML to Dave’s Top 100 project, and then additionally gave permission to make my list public. And the Searchblog is definitely on my list!