Scripting News: What would news do?

A picture named ouija.gifGot an email yesterday from a reporter at BusinessWeek, wanting to know, if Google couldn’t make RSS work, why are so many others interested. I decided to talk to the reporter, on the record, despite my rule of not doing interviews.

  • Truth be told I have been breaking the rule since launching Fargo, not often, but as a practical matter, the founder of a startup can’t afford to be too shy when it comes to press. Things are different now, I now have a reason to talk to reporters, and hope for a decent quote.
  • Turns out I didn’t get quoted in the piece. So I’ll write a blog post about it instead.

The answer is simple. RSS is the way news is distributed on the Internet. That’s why so many people want to be #1 in this area. News is big business. And starting in the mid-90s news has been on the Internet, and it’s not going away just because Google is getting out.

I think Google made a huge mistake with RSS, and that’s why the others are rushing in to try to be the new king of news on the net. Their excuse, imho, is as silly as it would be if they cancelled GMail because people are texting more. Google killed Reader because they’re a big ouija board with internal politics, just like every other big company. They made a mistake. The mistake was getting into RSS in the first place, when they didn’t have a love of news. They were rudderless. No sense of direction. The fairest thing they could do with RSS is what they did, get out. I often wonder why people take jobs as CEOs of companies that make things they have no passion for. Same idea. Google did not love RSS. So they shouldn’t have tried to own it. Once that dawned on them, the only rational answer was to transition out.

In the coming competition the winner, imho, will be the ones who love news with all their heart, and have a clear intuitive way to answer this question when they have to — What would news do?

A better question (which I asked the reporter): Why isn’t Bloomberg launching a net-based news-for-everyone service to fill the void left by Google?


About Dave Winer

Dave Winer, 54, pioneered the development of weblogs, syndication (RSS), podcasting, outlining, and web content management software; former contributing editor at Wired Magazine, research fellow at Harvard Law School, entrepreneur, and investor in web media companies. A native New Yorker, he received a Master's in Computer Science from the University of Wisconsin, a Bachelor's in Mathematics from Tulane University and currently lives in Berkeley, California.
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