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Ballmer Tries To Cool The RSS Hype

Robert Scoble
Expert Author
Published: 2005-05-20

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Amit Malhotra ran into Steve Ballmer at a tech conference and asked him a couple of questions about RSS and blogging.

In the interview Ballmer said that RSS is important but isn't going to change the world.

Oh, dear.

A few things.

1) Ballmer is right. RSS is still a technology only used by a very small percentage of the overall market. I don't get bothered by that. If only the news freaks in society use RSS, that's still a quite sizeable audience and one that will change the world with RSS.

2) RSS still has a long way to go to get mainstream adoption. The aggregators are still too rough. They still do too many negative things to users. They aren't reliable enough. They often bring back multiple copies of the same item. Most haven't hit on the right interaction model yet. Many fall apart when you put thousands of feeds into them. It's hard for many people to subscribe to new feeds. Or even find them on pages. We're a long way off from getting mainstream adoption because of these, and other, drawbacks.

3) Web services vs. RSS. I don't see the world that way, but do admit there are things that would be nicer in a Web services world than in today's RSS world. For instance, when you subscribe to my blog for the first time you can only get the last few items that I published here. Why couldn't your client tell the server "give me all items published in 2003." If we had a Web services model, that'd be possible. But, a Web services model would be FAR FAR harder to get anyone to adopt. Why? Cause it'd be more expensive and would take both aggregators and servers to work together.

That said, RSS has totally changed how I work and how I get my information. In that sense, RSS has changed the world already and everything that comes now is gravy.

What do you think?

Oh, and thanks to Steve Rubel for linking to this.

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About the Author:
Robert Scoble is the founder of the Scobleizer blog. He works as PodTech.net's Vice President of Media Development.

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