Seeing Syndication’s Big Picture

    May 16, 2006
    WebProNews Staff

The mainstreaming of syndicated content online continues to move slowly onward, but it should pick up the pace and impact other media outlets.

Maybe they should have called this session “power to the writers” instead of “Grokking the Big Picture” with its panel of speakers on how syndication is altering media, publishing, and marketing.

Newsvine CEO Mike Davidson said, “Take the typical MSNBC reader…now in the age of RSS, if they had feeds for all of the writers, then people are no longer subscribing to MSNBC anymore. They’re subscribing to the individual writers and that a little dangerous for media companies.”

Technorati’s David Sifry noted how people say, “You know what? Just give me the good stuff,” when it comes to content. “I still think there is enormous power (in traditional media outlets) because I trust that the editors at these organizations are trying to help me understand what is important and saving me time,” he remarked.

So the mainstream media isn’t quite read for the long dark drive/deep hole/quick lime treatment just yet. But the mainstream does need to get creative when it comes to RSS. If they aren’t looking at the issues and trends in media development and RSS then they may “find themselves looking at the tracks after the train’s gone through,” as Sifry put it.

The topic of full text feeds versus partial text feeds divided the panel. Eric Elia of Brightcove favors the full text option from the standpoint of giving consumers a choice in how they get content.

Davidson disagrees with that. He is against full text feeds and sees RSS as a notification tool. Otherwise, “do you want to see Flash ads in your feeds?” he asked. Davidson sees website monetization as being fairly worked out now; removing that content from the publisher’s control can create problems.

To Sifry, feed monetization needs to be worked out further. “To say that this is a mature industry with well understood metrics is an overstatement,” he said. That would be due to how readers pull data and how aggregators work, in that they create some issues with the metrics.

Whether or not monetization is ready, the tehcnology for making RSS more mainstream has been arriving. WhatCounts president/CEO David Geller noted how new versions of browsers and email clients will help this adoption.

He could easily be referring to Microsoft. With the release of Internet Explorer 7, feed support in Office 12 and Outlook, and broader RSS support in the Vista operating system. Love or hate the company, we think they could be the driving factor in truly mainstreaming syndicated content and RSS adoption.

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David Utter is a staff writer for WebProNews covering technology and business.