Kara Swisher reports that gee-whiz iPad app Pulse has been yanked after very public praise yesterday at the Apple developer conference might be a tempest in a teacup. Perhaps — as many suggest — senior NY Times execs don’t know that Pulse is ‘just’ an RSS reader. Or is this step one in a way against RSS?
Mike Masnick probes at the edges of this:
I’m guessing their concern is with the fact that the RSS reader is a paid app. This likely this goes back to an issue I raised more than five years ago, about companies who were putting “non-commercial” licenses on their RSS feed. How do you determine what’s “non-commercial” in RSS? If I use that RSS feed as a part of my job, is that commercial? If I use it in a fee-based app, is that commercial? Either way, it’s hard to see how this is really commercial use in any way. Yes, the RSS app is a fee-based app, but it’s not “selling” the NY Times’ content. It’s just letting anyone access the free content that the NY Times put out for just this purpose. It’s selling the software. In the same way Dell or HP or whoever sells a computer and lets people “access” the NY Times website.
I don’t think this is about RSS, per se. It’s about the general trend into the web of flow away from the web of pages. And the Times and other media giants will resist this.
The web of flow that is emerging — based on RSS originally, but now the social web — turns pages into URL handles: not for navigation but for fetching. Instead of playing nice, and clicking on links to visit the hosting site, the flow will suck up the content at the end of a URL and pull it into a the stream. So instead of seeing a NY Times story on their site, the Twitter client or Pulse reader will display the piece in context.
The media want people to travel to their old web of pages — that they spend some much time editing, organizing, and curating — so that they can make money on ads (oh, and maybe people will look at other pages too).
The answer to this won’t be to block the inexorable web of flow from happening. The answer is to put flow ads into the posts being served up in the flow apps. Instead of fighting with Pulse the NY Times ought to be figuring out a way to build micro ads into the RSS that Pulse is using, or the shortened URLs that everyone uses in the microstream.
As just one approach, a shortened URL could be associated with not only a piece of content — the news story on /Message or the NY Times — but also with a micro ad, which could be rendered by readers or flow apps, like Tweetie running on my desktop or my iPhone, or in Pulse on the iPad. The responsiblity of Pulse and Tweetie would be to display the micro ad if and when the story is expanded in place. If the user just clicks through, no problems.
- NY Times Confused About Its Own RSS Feed; Orders Takedown Of iPad RSS Reader (techdirt.com)
- Jobs’ keynote praise gets RSS reader pulled from App Store (kottke.org)