Today is RSS Awareness Day, and as a solid 40% of my RSS subscribers use Google Reader, I thought I would take this opportunity to reach out to the Google Reader team.
I am someone who loves using RSS, but at the same time as a business owner I find RSS is not living up to its current billing.
Whilst I haven’t mentioned RSS day before on this blog, I have known about Daniel’s plans for a month, and I might have been the first one to suggest using a dedicated site to promote RSS Day. This avoids what might be looked on as purely an attempt at linkbait.
Premium RSS Content
- I want to be able to provide premium content delivered by RSS
- I also want to consume premium content delivered by RSS.
- I am honestly sick of paying for access to content, but having to visit each site in turn to actually read it.
The premium content is currently served behind pay walls, as web content, PDFs, sometimes even video. All of this content could easily be delivered by RSS.
It is even often the case that Google is allowed to index this content, and serve advertising on it, but if I want to read it, I have to actually visit the site.
Against Google Business Model
Google makes money serving advertising along side or within content, thus in many ways it serves Google’s long term goals if “all information is free”
Unfortunately some content isn’t “mass market” and takes a huge amount of time in preparation – CPC, CPA & CPM monetization solutions are not sufficient compensation.
In addition, using authentication, it is possible to deliver different content to different users. For Google that would mean that the open rate of individual RSS feeds would be less valuable within their search algorithms.
But That Is What Email Is For
I know people will argue that if you want private delivery of information, email is the perfect choice. There are huge drawbacks.
- Spam filters block content we want to receive – sometimes I even get my contact form messages arriving in Gmail’s spam bin
- Opt-In Mechanisms are confusing for many readers – only 60% of the people who initially requested to receive my blog content by Feedburner’s RSS to Email service actually confirmed their subscription
- CAN SPAM – there are lots of hoops to jump through for commercial email, and these are increasing
- Multimedia – why can’t I watch a YouTube video in Gmail yet?
- Privacy – some people are scared to give out their primary email address
Reading email seems to be a very selective process with significant restraints for security
- You can’t read a “river of email” even though that would be a huge time saver
- I don’t know of an email client that allows you to quickly share emails using a single hotkey combination – it is possible to apply filters for forwarding, but that is less liable to human error when tired, drunk, or when you have a 1 year old on your lap
Suggestions For Google Reader
- Google Reader needs to support some kind of HTTP Authentication for access to secure personal content
- Support for controls that restrict sharing of content to shared public accessible feeds – not just the primary shared feeds, but also label shared feeds
This isn’t the first time I have written about this, in many ways this is a pet topic as it is very much a core feature I want to be able to use for my business both as a provider of premium content, and a consumer.
I know there are corporate solutions available which feature quite extensive control, after all for internal adoption of RSS for company intranets, this level of control is essential.
Many existing consumer RSS Readers support authentication – it isn’t a major programming hurdle, though might consume additional storage resources – I can’t beleive Google lack the resources to make this possible.
Premium content is something that needs to be accessible by consumers, thus I hope that any future solution provided by Google isn’t planned for their premium business solutions.
The Future Of RSS (at least on this blog)
In the near future I plan to deliver premium content by RSS – much of it will still be free of charge – if at that time Google Reader doesn’t support various access controls, I will restrict access and block Google Reader
This might be looked on as extreme, but I first discussed these problems in October 2006
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