Dedicato ai lettori da feed RSS

A te che continui a leggermi attraverso i feed RSS, dedico questo post che riassume alcuni concetti espressi nell’ultimo libro di Chris Dixon: Read write own: building the next era of the Internet.

La promessa RSS…

The competitive disadvantages of protocol networks are perhaps best illustrated by the fate of RSS, or “really simple syndication,” the protocol that came closest to challenging corporate social networks. RSS is a protocol with functionality similar to a social network. It lets you make lists of users you want to follow, and it allows those users to send you content. Web administrators can embed code on their sites to output updates in a format called XML, short for “extensible markup language,” whenever a new post is published. The updates get pushed to the customized feeds of subscribers, who follow the sites and blogs of their choice using their preferred RSS “reader” software. The system is elegant and decentralized. But it’s bare bones.

In the 2000s, RSS was a credible competitor to corporate networks like Twitter and Facebook.

Read write own: building the next era of the Internet

e il fallimento:

There are two main reasons why RSS lost. First: features. RSS couldn’t match the ease of use and advanced functionality of corporate networks. On Twitter, a user could sign up, choose a name and accounts to follow, and be up and running all in a few clicks. RSS was, by contrast, simply a set of standards. No company was behind it, and therefore no one ran a centralized database to store things like people’s names and lists of followers. The products built around RSS had more limited features, lacking user-friendly mechanisms for content discovery, curation, and analytics.

RSS expected too much from users. Like email and the web, the protocol used DNS for naming, but that meant content creators had to pay to register domains and then transfer those domains to their own web servers or RSS hosting providers. This onboarding experience was fine for email and the web back in the early days of the internet, when there were no alternatives and when many users were technologists who were accustomed to putting in the effort. But as people with less willingness and know-how came online, RSS couldn’t compete. Free, streamlined services like Twitter and Facebook offered easier ways for people to publish, connect, and consume, enabling them to amass tens, then hundreds of millions—and in Facebook’s case, billions—of users.


This gets at the second reason RSS lost: funding. For-profit companies can raise venture capital to hire more developers, build advanced functionality, subsidize hosting costs, and so forth. As they grow, more capital becomes available. Companies like Facebook and Twitter, and almost every other large corporate network, have raised billions of dollars from private and public investors. RSS was just a loosely connected group of developers with no access to capital beyond voluntary donations. It was never a fair fight.

Read write own: building the next era of the Internet

Peccato, ma c’era da aspettarselo.

I tempi di Internet come terreno inesplorato dove creare un mondo diverso sono lontani. Internet è diventato territorio di conquista del capitalismo della sorveglianza e non solo. Senza l’intervento del regolatore non cambierà nulla. I buoi sono già fuori dalla stalla e recuperare la situazione attuale sarà un processo lungo e arduo.

Non credo, come Dixon, che Web3 ci salverà, anzi. In modo molto disilluso, sono convinto che è un altro cavallo di troia di Big Tech incrociato con Fin Tech o almeno lo diventerà appena il tutto diventerà appetibile, semmai lo sarà.

Libro comunque da mettere in coda e già lo è. Bella copertina.

Una risposta

  1. Lettura interessante. Ne avevo già parlato un paio d’anni fa sul mio blog, e sono arrivato alle stesse conclusioni: RSS è morto per colpa dei social, non c’è bisogno di girarci intorno. Si sarebbe potuto evolvere in un sistema in grado di liberarci dalle pesanti catene delle piattaforme moderne, ma proprio per questo è stato fatto fuori.

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