Scripting News for 5/19/2008

nytimesriver.com back 

While I was traveling the machine that was generating nytimesriver.com overheated and stopped running the app.

This morning the first thing I did was get it running again, and made a few tweaks and small performance improvements.

http://nytimesriver.com/

Thanks everyone for being so patient.🙂

Nothing from nothing leaves nothing 

Mark Evans asks a provocative question — are pro bloggers going to be extinct soon?

If you were to ask a pro blogger this question, they would say of course not.

Now if you ask me — there never was such a thing as a pro blogger. It’s a contradiction in terms. It’s like calling someone a professional amateur. It’s like salty orange juice, a drink whose taste is derived from its acidity. Blogging is an amateur activity. It’s users writing about what they do, not professionals writing about what users do.

That pros have tried to hijack the term doesn’t somehow evade the old question of what happens to pros in an age where users go direct to each other. They thought they could pull a fast one “Oh we’ll just steal their name” and somehow their economic model will start making sense when it didn’t before.

Oh lord, you can’t buy a Mercedes Benz with that.

Remember this old Doc Searlsism. We make money because we blog not from our blog. We earn because we learn from sharing our experiences with others, not because we let advertisers hitch a ride on our writing for a fee. No one pays attention to the ads, so it doesn’t matter if you include them or not.

As Billy Preston once sang, nothing from nothing leaves nothing.

Hopefully that answers the question Mr. Evans asked.

Sites that trust their users 

I’ve been writing about locking users in by holding their data for a long time from a number of different angles.

1. Sites that have my data, but won’t let me use as I’d like to. Example — movie ratings data locked up by Netflix and Yahoo. Why, when I rate a movie at Netflix can’t I let Yahoo have that data and vice versa. And if you’d like to link movie ratings to a dating profile on match.com or Jdate, why not let users arrange that?

2. I’ve always believed that blogging and RSS tools should export their data so users can switch tools and the products at UserLand all did this. As a result, there’s a tradition among RSS readers that they import and export OPML subscription lists. It happened because Radio UserLand, the early market leader, did.

3. Interestingly, this is another example of “People return to sites that send them away,” a long-held belief here on Scripting News. For background see this post.

Now, what more can we do?

In an email exchange on this subject, Fred Wilson said: “I still use last.fm because I use at least a half dozen services actively that suck in my last.fm feed,” he said.

Vendors, pay attention –> Fred Wilson may be a bleeding edge user, but he is a user, and if he figured it out, others are sure to follow.

Which led me to this new idea…

Let’s reward companies who trust us with our data by giving them awards, a seal of approval they can boast about, a way of identifying those services that will survive the purge that’s certainly coming.

Eventually we will abandon our data and start anew, this time with the requirement that we can take our data with us.

Lock people in with price, performance and features, not a deadbolt.

Lock users in with love, not force.

Sting sang it: If you love someone set them free. A paradox only if you think you can force someone to love you.

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