Why RSS Hasn’t Taken Off Yet

Micro Persuasion: Why RSS Hasn’t Taken Off Yet

Unbelievable. Read this, via Steve Rubel:

"There’s been a lot of debate about why RSS usage has been slow to take off among mainstream Internet consumers. Here’s one reason. Most Web users only visit six sites on a regular basis, according to a UK study. What’s more, 95% say they go online with a specific destination in mind. The researchers are calling this the ‘Supersite’ phenomenon. "

This "six regular sites" seems hard to reconcile with the part of the report that says three-quarters of people questioned say the Internet is indispensable to their daily lives. According to it, "just one banking, shopping, travel information and holiday website is enough for a person to keep their life well-managed."

On the report is one of those instant polls that says "Do you visit more than six sites regularly?" I clicked "yes" ;-), and saw that so far, 84 per cent have done the same; 16 per cent have clicked no. I wonder who formed the basis of the survey, then?

Six sites, hmmmm —would that be possible for me? Well, I don’t vist holiday sites on a regular basis, but here is where I do go regularly: four banking sites (current account, savings account and two credit card accounts), several information sites (Times, BBC, Google, etc); about 5 regular online shopping sites (Amazon, Next directory, Ocado (supermarket), Big Wednesday (surf wear 😉 ), and a couple of others occasionally. I have about 6 utilities sites (phone, gas, electricity, local council, etc) As of today, I have 111 feeds in my rss reader. I have 50 bookmarks in the side of my browser that I visit maybe once a week. At work I visit between 10 and 20 internet sites a day (most frequently pages within my company’s site or other journals, or info sites like Medline, Wikipedia.). At home I visit about 50-100 sites in addition to the 50 bookmarks in my favourites list on an occasional basis. On Connotea, I have about 150 bookmarks in my Detective resource and about 500 science-related in my work persona of Maxine. I subscribe to a few theatre and cinema websites/lists. I have a few Google news alerts. I might occasionally look at holiday sites if we are planning an actual trip somewhere.

Am I an addict? Or a totally integrated person? Or both? (I don’t get out much, obviously.)

Blaming the Media

The Opinionated Bastard: Blaming the Media

Excellent article here (link above) about mass media irresponsibility, with lots of pertinent comments.

"To quote SpiderMan of all things, with great power comes great responsibility. It matters how you ask the question, and it matters how you tell the story. I understand the pressure the media is under. They have to feed the beast 24/7. I’ve been there, and my column is only once/month.
But are they reporting the news, or making the news?
More often then not, it seems to me that they’re either making the news, sexing up the news, or just making shit up."


"I want to be able to read the New York Times or watch CNN, or listen to NPR and be able to trust what they’re telling me. Since I can’t do that, since the media is no longer fulfilling their basic function, I have to blog, and I have to read blogs.

It pisses me off, because I had better things to do this decade than be my own news service. I don’t like having to read transcripts of press conferences because I can’t trust the media to even write down what was said correctly. I don’t like having to spend hours finding real experts on the web to analyze how this or that media expert has distorted the facts. I don’t like having to pore through the blogs of journalists, soldiers and Iraqi citizens so I can get some inkling of how things are really going, without the hype. Even though I do it, I don’t even like having to download the Brookings report once/month in order to see what the numbers say about how the war is going.

But I have to do all that, because its the only way I can truly be an informed citizen.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that most of all, I blame the media for being incompetent."

But, this is the same person who says earlier in the post:

"One of the ironies for me as a blogger is that the more I just “toss off something” the more responses I get. If I present a well-reasoned, well-articulated argument, no one comments. Vent a little in the middle of the night, and I get 100 comments."

Seems like one of those Morton’s forks things to me.

Pierce Wetter said…

What’s a Morton’s Fork?

10:34 PM

Maxine said…

Morton’s Fork is an expression that describes a choice between two equally unpleasant alternatives, or two lines of reasoning that lead to the same unpleasant conclusion. It is analogous to the expressions "between the devil and the deep sea" or "from the frying pan to the fire".

The expression originates from a policy of tax collection devised by John Morton, Lord Chancellor in 1487, under the rule of Henry VII. His approach was that if the subject lived in luxury and had clearly spent a lot of money on himself, he obviously had sufficient income to spare for the king. Alternatively, if the subject lived frugally, and showed no sign of being wealthy, he must have had substantial savings and could therefore afford to give it to the king. These arguments were the two prongs of the fork and regardless of whether the subject was rich or poor, he didn’t have a favourable choice.

(from Wikipedia).

My phraseology in the posting was becuase Morton’s Fork has been involved in recent discussion on Books, Inq.

4:23 PM

A landmark moment

Philobiblon: A landmark moment: the web overtakes TV

"OK, it was a survey conducted for Google, but whatever the details, the finding that the average Briton spends around 164 minutes online every day, compared with 148 minutes watching television is a landmark."

Brilliant. Next stop, broadband good and cheap enough to support downloadable movies and dramas, when you feel like watching them?

Another step on the path towards personal control of one’s information space……..

…….Up to a point, given all the scraping and spamming that goes on, and the various Big Brother aspects pointed out by many. But I’m happy that things are moving in this direction.

I think the first time I was conscious of this type of thought was when I read that the first video recorders went on sale in the UK. I was at the TV rental shop the morning after I read about them in the newspaper, asking to rent one (couldn’t afford to buy one in those days — they were about 5 times the price they are now, for a simple record/play facility, not even a timer, and I was an impoverished young person). The guy in the shop had never had anyone wanting to rent a video recorder before (they were that new) so he had to invent a rate.

That must have been around 1978. It marked the beginning of the end for live TV in my life. By around 1984 (;-) ) I had pretty much stopped watching it entirely, as the only live material I watched by then was sports, and I gave up that pursuit in disgust when the "sports agent" mentality hit — I liked it when you could get an Olympic silver in the 5000 metres by running round the canal in Birmingham every night for a year or two beforehand (without anyone knowing). And after you”d won you wouldn’t get an OBE for a good 20 years (certainly not a knighthood).

Nostalgia city! It certainly was not all good- no fax, internet, email — we are much better off now, even with the sports agents.

Rad decision

James Aach kindly left a comment on Petrona the other day in response to my posting on the value of blogging. In his comment he referred to an essay he’s written on a science and culture website called Lablit.com. James’s comment got picked up by Books, Inq. and quite a bit of subsequent discussion about science in fiction went on over there.

I’ve now read James’s essay: it is a readable, funny and ironic article about his attempts to get his science-in-fiction novel published and his analysis of events — ending up in a rather similar place to Richard Poynder, about whom I posted a couple of days ago. James’s novel, Rad Decision, is available electronically and in downloadable form. It "tells the story of the people and machinery that make up a nuclear power plant, and the dark tale of a man who believes it is his destiny to destroy it. " Sounds good, not least from the readers’ comments on James’s site. I just hope I can find a way to obtain it that does not involve trying to read it on a screen or downloading it all myself.

To return to James’s essay. It is an object lesson in various respects. First, it tells a good story of his idea for writing his book. Second, it is a fiction-writing guide for people who are more used to the technical terminology and style of science research (which tends to be presented in a pretty boring and inaccessible manner on the whole, I can confirm, sadly). James goes on to write about how to get a novel published (not); why science-in-fiction is not popular; and why he thinks his particular novel was rejected. The piece is full of wry humour, and I highly recommend it.

I hope that James Aach gets his novel published (though he might consider changing the title). And makes a lot of money from it. He deserves to on the basis of his writing and energy so far.

More on Quick Reads

Waterstones, the UK bookseller, is continuing to promote the "Quick Read" series of new books for people wishing to regain the reading habit or for those who experience difficulty reading are being published.

All the books in the series are listed and reviewed in the company’s Amazon area this week.