RSS & CB Radio

Imagine if ATT had decided to send all of its telephone subscribers a free CB radio back in the 1970s, just to make sure the company was at the forefront of an exciting new communications technology that was sweeping the nation. Mass adoption of trucker tech by the general population would have been a silly thing for a monopoly to gamble on, right?

Seth Godin today looks back at the CB radio craze of the 70s, and specifically how people at the time mistook a niche fascination for a larger trend. The post concludes with Seth asking whether RSS feeds are akin to a true killer-app like email, or destined to join GeoCities in the discarded technology dustbin.

With any new technology, you can waste money and your all-too-important time chasing a fad while thinking it’s an enduring trend.

At first blush, it might seem like Seth isn’t sure what he thinks about the future of RSS. But if you follow the link he places in his closing question, you’ll see he’s invested quite a bit of his own valuable time in an “Understanding RSS” lens on Squidoo.

As the Godfather of Permission Email Marketing®, Seth knows RSS is not a passing fad or a niche obsession. Anyone who has spent time in the email publishing arena knows that people love to get content that matters to them delivered by email.

What they don’t like is spam, viruses, phishing and filters that nuke desired content. Email has become too important to personal communication for that junk, which means many people no longer want to give out an email address to content publishers.

You know, content publishers like you, who realize how important subscribers are.

The fact is, RSS and CB radio are at completely different points along the technology adoption spectrum, because the concept of sending and receiving opt-in Internet content has already been hugely embraced thanks to email. Since RSS fixes the unintended nasty consequences of email publishing, it too will be hugely embraced.

Which brings us back to silly things that monopolies don’t do.

The way Microsoft has invested in RSS speaks volumes. Feed reading capabilities are integrated throughout Internet Explorer 7, the new version of Outlook, and the Windows Vista operating system itself. Microsoft knows RSS is the future of content delivery, and they’ve made the appropriate big investment.

So… Can I get a big 10-4 on the importance of RSS to your businesses, good buddies?

5 thoughts on “RSS & CB Radio

  1. It’s the content reader, not the technology. That’s why, like it or not, it’s Microsoft that will de-geek RSS for the masses.

  2. RSS is great, but I think Ahmed has hit the nail on the head with the idea that the focus needs to be on the reader. Give them a tool they can understand, not tech speak for a concept/technology – meaningless to the average user.

  3. It’s a matter of framing rather than deliverability of an idea – RSS is couched in tech-speak, whereas the benefits and ‘coolness’ of CB gave it its mass appeal.

    If we can transform RSS (or more accurately, transform it’s perception) to reflect the benefits of the users (access to multiple information sources in one spot) we can probably acheive similar, or greater success.

    And why not focus on rss readers instead? A tool is easy to understand (like CB radios were). I dont imagine that people would have dug the technology that much if THAT was what was being promoted all the time.

  4. And odd as it may seem (or may once have seemed, think about it…) Microsoft will most likely be the one to bring it to the masses and make it part of every day net-life for regular joe..

  5. One major difference between CB and RSS. Everyone knew what CB was, nobody outside of blogging/tech circles know or care about RSS. That’s a big hill for RSS to climb.

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