As it pertains to those with more than a trivial content consumption habit, this statement goes down in my book next to predictions like “six computers should be sufficient for all the world’s requirements”:
“In a case of what Outsell sees as enthusiasm run amok, Bloglines, the RSS reader unit of Ask Jeeves, has announced it will go beyond accommodating RSS feeds for news and updates by enabling users to track shipping information as RSS feeds. Additionally, its press release promises that weather and stock portfolio tracking are on the horizon. The “one portal to rule them all” model is so 1990s, says Outsell’s Chuck Richard. “Users are firmly in control, and most will not want to be walled inside a blog reader application” for all their disparate information needs. In the face of the ability and habit of users to easily go anywhere and everywhere for various information types, this will likely become a hodgepodge solution in search of a problem.”
It’s 2005, and people are talking about portals being “so 1990’s”, when the conversation the rest of us are having is about democratized aggregation (i.e., implicit and explicit user controlled selection and “personalization” of content and content sources).
PointCast (the proprietary predecessor to today’s Feed Readers) did not fail because it didn’t fill a need or fit a usage pattern; it failed because of product execution (well, that, and the typical internal corporate BS).
Browsing is soooo ’90s. Aggregation is in (hint: it already dominates our physical lives). Aggregation subsumes browsing (not totally, but for most all things routine). Democratized aggregation (where the user picks the sources) is even better.
Chuck Richard from Outsell was kind enough to drop by and leave a thoughtful response in which he states that we’re in agreement.
Chuck, I don’t believe we’re in agreement. I’ll clarify my perspective here (and point to you, here or elsewhere, if you decide to do the same). Let’s deconstruct…
“In a case of what Outsell sees as enthusiasm run amok, Bloglines, the RSS reader unit of Ask Jeeves, has announced it will go beyond accommodating RSS feeds for news and updates by enabling users to track shipping information as RSS feeds.”
Personally, micro-feeds for an individual shipment (i.e., limited useful lifespan) aren’t super compelling to me, given the hassle of set-up and tear-down currently associated with Feed subscriptions. However, I would welcome a personalized Feed (ala Netflix Feeds) from each Carrier (UPS, FedEx, et al) that persisted in my aggregator and brought updates on the individual shipping lifecycle of any package they are charged with delivering to me. Similarly, I would expect that a business (e.g., Amazon, a given eBay Power Seller, etc) would welcome a Feed from each Carrier that provided it with near real-time status for all of its shipments in process. (The Carriers obviously provide the latter already, though not necessarily in RSS format.) Net-net? Package delivery has a place in my aggregator, if properly implemented.
“Additionally, its press release promises that weather and stock portfolio tracking are on the horizon.”
These were, in fact, the two most popular ‘Channels’ on PointCast, and would be a welcome addition in my aggregator. In fact, there isn’t any type of content that I can think of that I wouldn’t want to have the option of including in my aggregator.
““Users are firmly in control, and most will not want to be walled inside a blog reader application” for all their disparate information needs.”
I think this is where our paths truly start to diverge. You (appearantly) believe in browsing for content. I believe in aggregation, and non-limiting aggregation UIs.
Plus, there’s no walling in involved. Bloglines (et al) are working to create a receptacle and destination (i.e., Feed Aggregator) for an aggregated content experience. Nothing prohibits users from browsing to any other destination and nothing limits their choice of content sources within the aggregator.
“In the face of the ability and habit of users to easily go anywhere and everywhere for various information types, this will likely become a hodgepodge solution in search of a problem.”
Again, you’re advocating a usage scenario where the primary means by which users get the information they desire is by navigating from site to site. I’m advocating a centralized service that automates the routine collection of disparate information types and sources; in this scenario, browsing is the exception, not the norm (and is often initiated by information found from existing sources, or, by analysis of implict and explicit user behavior).
In the comments, you state, “One source, AskJeeves, Google or any other, setting out to be the only or dominant source of anyone’s content, via RSS feeds or any other delivery mechnanism was the dream of so many portals designed in the 1990’s… AskJeeves will never be more than a drop in the ocean.”
Again, I think we differ on what the play is here. While these players may well choose to offer their own (branded) content Feeds, and may encourage distribution of them by defaulting them or “suggesting” them, their primary goal at this point in the game is to create a destination site/content receptacle. That makes them a channel play, and gives them access to all manner of… interesting… meta-data.
One last comment; I specifically called out at the very beginning of this post that my view doesn’t hold for those who have a “small information appetite”. As a user with a “large information appetite”, I spend an order of magnitude more time in my aggregator than I do in my browser… and when all of my other data sources (Financial, Health, etc) are available in (as appropriate, personalized, secured) Feeds, my browser usage will decrease even further. This is what I meant by “Aggregation subsumes browsing (not totally, but for most all things routine).”
I look forward to your reply.