Phil Sim

Web, media, PR and… footy

OPML won’t catch on

Squash has felt a little redundant of late. For a while there it seemed as if every blogger and his pet rock was going the snark route but I sense the flockosphere has started to get bored with snark, which means it's time for Squash to take out the big steel-capped boots again.

And what better place to start with than OPML. Today, the flockosphere is bleating with great gusto over Dane Winer's newest gift to the world Share Your OPML.

I've written before that RSS is going to struggle to go mainstream, well if RSS is still an edge-case technology than OPML long ago fell off the edge and is laying in a mangled mess at the bottom of the precipice.

If you're inclined go to Share Your OPML and let everyone delight in your RSS reading list. Go on, I'll wait here. Lord knows, I won't be following. Why on earth would I bother? What's in it for me to share what I read with the world. Wow, a couple of people might, maybe, perhaps subscribe to my reading list. Well my message to those people is, go find your own bloody reading list.

So much of what is supposedly cool about Web 2.0 is about being the same as everyone else. This is a recipe for reading list homogeny and its counter to everything that is good about the Internet.

So I log into Share My OPML and what do I get? The list of Top 100 sites. Well, just what I needed to expand my knowledge of cool, new feeds. Good job I logged into Share My OPML, otherwise I may not have known about TechCrunch.

People, it's not that hard to surf the web. Want to know what your favourite blogger reads. Well, chances are they have a blogroll and you can see what they read there. 

So far, as I mentioned the blogosphere are in raptures. TechCrunch, Steve Rubel, Robert Scoble and other usual suspects give it rave reviews but then why wouldn't they. The come in at 1,3 and 26 respectively. It's a good marketing strategy to tout the service because you get YOUR readers to upload their OPML feeds, guaranteeing you rank well.

Of course, such circumstances will cease to hold true once the service gets critical mass. Quite a few bloggers have enthused about what one might do with Share Your OPML "once it gets critical mass".

I don't think it will get critical mass. Aside from for vanity reasons, which will give it an initial kick along from tragic bloggers, I just can't see why you'd both participating.

That said, I encourage all Squash readers to rush to the site now and upload your OPML cos we don't even have a single user as yet. I guess the good thing is now, I know who doesn't read Squash and I can begin a spam campaign targetted at all those ignoramuses to make them see the error of their RSS ways.

So, there you go, there is a practical use of the service!

(I'll be very interested to watch the Share My OPML numbers. If I'm right, they'll grow for about three days then hit a plateau. If nothing else, it will give a really, nice indicator as to the size of the net edge..) 

Filed under: Uncategorized

21 Responses

  1. I tend to agree with you. There are so many “top blog” rankings out there, they very quickly begin to lose meaning.

    You also hit on the all-important phenomenon of the “early adopters” benefitting from promoting the new service (as they are more likely to rank high on it). It’s a very interesting feedback loop.

  2. Share Your OPML – Killer Attention App for Geeks Only

    Dave Winer’s has just launched Share Your OPML (SYO). It’s a way to upload and share your OPML file. You can also see who is subscribing to certain feeds or discover who has reading habits like yours via “Subscriptions Like Mine”. Alex Barnett and …

  3. BillyG says:

    It is my latest http://del.icio.us/BillyG/OPML tag from last night (right-clicking my BlogLines Toolkit ext. saves me a trip to the site lol) but I blew my OPML wade a few weeks ago too, same ol, same ol names, blah, blah, blah… not jealous, no ads on my blog either, just want something else besides the same crap rehashed 50 times a day, a big reason I don’t even post anymore, my blog just suffices as a tagroll for anybody that may wanna see another version of my delicious savings everyday

  4. I call this “More Voice For The Voiceful”. Yet another way of arriving at the same result that the A-list is popular.

  5. not necessarily true that no one on the site is subscribed to Squash. I am. And I’ve shared my feed. Someone needs to write a bugnote to Dave I think :)

    I hear what you’re saying, Phil and I kind of agree… I don’t think this is going to change the world by any stretch. But, are there other places where RSS subscriptions are being tracked, all together? (I’m not aware of one, but I haven’t exactly been on the lookout).

    I agree this site is probably not going to have much impact on the every-man, and that it will again reiterate the a-list… but I’m also hoping we can get some other interesting outputs from the data that everyone is sharing. And, I’m also keen to find more bloggers I’m interested in – I think this might be a good way to do so, using the Subscriptions Like You feature.

    Anyways. A few thoughts.

  6. Share Your OPML: pointers to lists of pointers.

    It’s interesting to see what other people are reading, but a gob of feeds doesn’t really cut it. I think the Reblog route is much better, e.g.: http://migurski.net/reblog/out/

  7. I agree that “top 100″ services like Share Your OPML might not catch on, or at least only have limited appeal.

    However, OPML has applications beyond Dave’s initial vision of personal reading lists. A structured method to link RSS/Atom feeds is inherently useful in many other ways. It will probably take people other than Dave himself to realise them, though. Which would not necessarily reflect badly on Dave.

  8. Caitlin says:

    How is RSS ‘going to struggle to go mainstream’? RSS already is mainstream. At least it is in Britain. Okay so most people wouldn’t know a RSS feed if it bit them on the bum – that is they wouldn’t know the name for it – but they’re subscribing to Ricky Gervais podcasts in the millions. If you’ve got an entire podcast channel on iTunes and it’s popular enough to get promoted on the home page and receive acres of press coverage any time anyone sneezes (or the media equivalent which is the BBC releasing yet another programme via podcast) surely that’s mainstream?

    Or did you mean that people actually have to know it’s an RSS feed and go and get a special reader (like Bloglines) to read blogs and news feeds. That’s not going to be mainstream for a while but it’s catching on reasonably quickly. It’s a very limited definition though – kind of like saying that Java or C++ is not mainstream because most people don’t know how to code in these languages even though they use programmes built on them every day of their lives.

  9. Phil, I think one benefit we can get from SYO is the ability to peek a little more into what other people are paying attention to. I plan to use SYO to help me spy on the minds of some of the top bloggers and grab some of the feeds they follow the most. And I expect others will do the same to me – hopefully the overall intent is to do good with all that information! For example, if I scour Robert Scoble’s OPML and find that he is not subscribing to a few of my favorite feeds that I think are relevant to his list, I can easily pop him an email (or call him) and let him know. SYO just makes it easier to do that. I think we’ll see a lot more of this phenomenon: paying attention to attention itself as a marketing tool.

  10. [...] There has been some nay saying about this system, but I think it’s great. After the following “more” link I’ll detail some of the possibilities I see. Note also that the Share server may be a bit taxed because there’s a huge wave of interest right away. [...]

  11. Ari Mir says:

    Phil,

    OPML won’t catch on. There are many reasons, some stated above, others more obvious. I don’t think there is a debate regarding the future of OPML.

    However, as users begin consuming more content, they will need a system for aggregating, mobilizing and discovering content feeds.

    Reading lists are the key to making RSS a part of mainstream Internet culture (the acronym will most likely die). SYO is not the proper platform, but I am sure a service will come along soon to address these issues. :)

  12. Brock says:

    Where’s your blogroll, Phil?

  13. Phil, RSS IS mainstream. Period! I really don’t understand how can you make that statement, being the entepreuner that you are. I think this may make you eat your words. http://chronotron.wordpress.com/2006/05/12/rss-is-mainstream-media/

  14. rickdog says:

    What’s so bad about widening your sphere of interest?
    I’m interested in what other people are reading.
    I love mp3blogs, and through the “Subscriptions Like Mine” function I got turned onto a lot of new ones.
    Winer’s software does suffer from one thing though – good usability. As with his web-based OPMLmanager, one can only maintain one list. I gave up on OPMLmanager out of frustration after I quickly wound up with a massive nest of nodes in the wrong place with no good way of moving them.

  15. [...] Squash squishes OPML OPML won’t catch on [...]

  16. Caitlin says:

    You haven’t answered my point!

  17. Fred Zelders says:

    Rickdog,

    OPMLmanager (http://www.opmlmanager.com) is not connected in any way to Dave Winer.

    At the bottom of the home page it says:
    “opmlmanager.com: Concept & Idea Bernard Flach Programming Pieter Overbeeke”

  18. You guys are missing out on some major ideas, solutions and the monetising and repurposing of opml content … more for me then.

    Here is a clue, think semantic web applications, think semantikos.

  19. [...] OPML won’t change the game in any significant way. It’s a neat tool, but ultimately Squash is right – even geeks will find it geeky. SHARETHIS.addEntry({ title: "Squidoo, Edgeio and the [...]

  20. […] OPML won’t change the game in any significant way. It’s a neat tool, but ultimately Squash is right – even geeks will find it […]

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