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OK, here's what I wrote in the latest Cites & Insights--word-for-word (it's easy to select text from a PDF and copy it, particularly if it's on one page--and the CC license means that any blogger or whoever could legitimately quote it). Note that it was part of a multipart comment on postings in the Walking paper blog, thus the subheading and date (directly from that blog):
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Rss hub-bub, January 19, 2005
This time Schmidtâ€™s just asking for trouble. Noting enthusiasm in the blogosphere about one library vendor adding RSS to one of their extended products (and the predictable â€œevery library and every vendor should be doing this right nowâ€? responses from more excitable bloggers), he quotes part of one comment on one post. That comment, from an employee of another library automation company, notes that when that employee has suggested RSS feeds, the general response is â€œwhere are the customers who want this?â€?
He has a point that is sometimes difficult to remember. There are still many, many people [who] arenâ€™t familiar with RSS. Ask your neighbor what â€œReally Simple Syndicationâ€? is. 98% of you will come back having received strange looks, and maybe 1% of you (likely less) will have the correct answer. [Footnote: The missing 1%? Youâ€™ll come back with a black eye.]
You wonâ€™t get RSS in online catalogs until vendors
know that patrons are using itâ€”and, by the way, you probably wonâ€™t get it if youâ€™re not willing to pay for it. Sure, it has valuable library rolesâ€”-but what portion of the community will take advantage of the feeds? Maybe, as Schmidt suggests, this is one of those cases where the library mentors the patronsâ€”â€œguiding them through technologies they might benefit from
He also notes that, if RSS takes off in a big way,
itâ€™s likely to be ruinedâ€”â€œIf not by some new fangled spam, then itâ€™ll be by the abundant adverts and few full-content feeds. It could be rendered as painful to use as email.â€? Iâ€™ve wondered about that, and noted with a small sense of irony that the RSS feed from one of the top library promoters of RSS feeds is now partially
broken (by my standards): Itâ€™s no longer a fulltext feed, for financial reasons. (And, earlier, notes that he only encountered the comments because he clicked through to the site.)
Interesting stuff. So your library would just as
soon drop its new title lists and substitute an automatically generated RSS feed? You tell your patrons, â€œOh, we donâ€™t send that email any more. All you have to do is add our new title RSS feed to your aggregator.â€? What reaction will you get?
I live in a very high-tech community, on a block
where most homes are owned by two parents, both of
whom work in Silicon Valley. If I went around asking neighbors about RSS, Iâ€™m sure Iâ€™d get more than 1% success rateâ€”but Iâ€™m also sure it would be a lot less than half.
(Last-minute addition: See TRENDS & QUICK
TAKES in this issue. The latest Pew Internet & American Life study on blogging suggests that Schmidtâ€™s â€œ98%â€? figure is right on the money.)
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Why quote that 500+-word section? Because Jenny Levine (who has a considerably larger readership than I do, either here or at C&I) spent 1500+ words flaming me for things I don't believe I said (and, in the process, offering some genuinely useful suggestions of how RSS might be worthwhile in a library setting, to more than the 2% of American adults who apparently use aggregators). And because another blogger pointed to that entry without comment. And because Karen Schneider today spent yet another 800+ words applauding Jenny's post.
Clearly I must be biased against RSS: That's why I created a blog whose sole function is to serve as an RSS (actually Atom) feed. That's why I read Jenny, Karen, and 100 or so other bloggers via Bloglines.
This seems to be yet another case where raising any doubts whatsoever about a new technology--or, for that matter, commenting on the doubts raised by someone else (as I was here)--constitutes an attack on that technology. (I call it the "DR school of argument," and no, I won't expand those initials.)
Quick addition: Now yet another blogger has contributed to the piling on--this time without even reading my original comment (apparently), but instead trusting that Jenny L. must certainly have reported what I said correctly. The "conversation" just gets better and better.
Update 2/9/05, noonish: A conversation of sorts has taken place on most of the sites involved here. One, however, remains pure monolog: It's now been more than 24 hours, and while the original flame has been updated, my comment has not been posted (it requires signoff by the blog owner). Ah, the community! Ah, the conversation! Somehow, I'm reminded of the last line of in last night's Gilmore Girls. (Arcane reference deliberately left unexplained, just to bedevil both of you reading this--and no, we didn't discover GG until last spring. We're now watching Season 2 on DVD while also watching Season 5 on TV. Other than a little cognitive dissonance, no problem.)
Closing note, Thursday, February 10:
47 hours on the unposted comment; I'm giving up. Meanwhile, I think this particular flamefest has gone on long enough--and have said so in a comment at Shifted Librarian. Jenny and I will clearly continue to disagree; the Perspective that may grow out of this won't be about the original controversy; and life goes on. I won't delete this entry because...I don't believe in mucking with the record.