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The Dawn of the End of the Golden Age of RSS?

It’s a sunny day in Phoenix, but a cloud of pessimism is on the horizon, an unfortunate evolution of innovative internet innovations that start as open environments, only to become more convoluted, and polluted as they mainstream.

This came as I examined a series of new borg-like “RSS Services” that read like ads for Direct E-Mail software, full of shiny people in suits telling you how great RSS is for creating happy customers.

There was e-mail I remember in the 1980s, an invigorating way to connect with mostly colleagues in academia.. fast forward to the glut of email spam and viruses, spoofed bank messages, and people avoiding email. There were once vibrant communities of newsgroups, sharing ideas and resources in a very open space of topical interest… fast forward to newsgroups as the garden of porn sharing and software piracy. The web I recall in 1993, a place of wonderment and discovery of a multimedia internet.. fast forward now to the seedy mall side of get-rich-quick schemes, porn, spoof web sites aimed at stealing your personal information. Weblogs of the early 2000s, the opening of quick and easy web personal publishing to anyone… fast forward to comment blog spam threatening to close down the open mike channel of blogs.

So temper the excitement of wikis (think wiki spam), instant messaging (look for viral infections, spoofing persona, and personal invasions), and yes, the RSS that has enabled the simple access to many channels of information (and now multimedia casts)… how will they grow, evolve? Will the openness of these systems shrivel as they are taken advantage of? Will RSS get hijacked? spammed? loaded with ad-crap? Can anyone be interested in publishing a blog if they are pummeled by comments with on line poker and animal sex links? Why collaborate in a wiki if it is over run by links to Chinese fireworks, electronics, and illicit software suppliers?

Alan’s rule of internet technologies: Good open internet social technologies eventually become exploited (and less desirable to newbies) by profiteers who will taint the technology for all who follow. It’s not all that bad, but all of these become things you approach with more caution than their golden days of youthful emergence.

Have a sunny day.

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Profile Picture for Alan Levine aka CogDog
An early 90s builder of the web and blogging Alan Levine barks at on web storytelling (#ds106 #4life), photography, bending WordPress, and serendipity in the infinite internet river. He thinks it's weird to write about himself in the third person.


  1. I love this insight Alan. It’s so relevant to my own work because I’ve heard myself promote certain emerging technologies as they come along, only to have questionable situations arise with less-than-eager-to-adopt-in-the-first-place faculty members. Nothing like finally convincing a colleague to adopt a wiki or blog for their course, only to have them battle beastiality spam and wonder why they adopted in the first place.

    I can almost taste the emergence of a new, exciting technology, only to sadly see it’s youthfulness fade away.

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