or, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to Fear and Loathing at a Public Library Reference Desk


   October 26th, 2006

R$$: Really Simple SurchargeWhile at NELA last weekend, I attended a session by Linda Braun, who talked a lot about RSS feeds. One of the tools she presented was PageFlakes, which I had never seen before. During her talk, she kind of offhandedly commented that one of the reasons she likes PageFlakes is that it lets her save stories she wants to read, but doesn’t have time to save at the moment. That way, the text of the article gets stored on the PageFlakes server, and, obviously, she can go back and read them later.

She then commented that this is sort of a loophole to subscription news services, like the New York Times. The NYT provides free access to their stories for 14 days, but stories older than that require a subscription fee to read. However, by saving the stories on PageFlakes, she creates her own archive, and never has to pay to read older stories she had saved before they were 14 days old.

I found this interesting for two reasons: first, I like loopholes. Second, though, it made me wonder about RSS feeds, which I think most people take for granted right now (if they know about them at all). But what if RSS feeds go the way of bank ATMs - something that started out as being a free service provided by pretty much all the major players, and then, after people incorporated them into their lives and essentially became dependant on them, were suddenly no longer free (at least, to use another bank’s ATM).

So right now I can get NYT articles for free through RSS, but I don’t see it as unfathomable that they would see this as a viable way to make money in the future - after all, people pay for convenience, and RSS feeds are much more convenient than visiting their website every day.

nela, new york times, pageflakes, rss, technology, web 2.0

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One Response to “Pay-for-RSS?”

  1. Chris Says:

    Heh. I do this myself too. I’ve got a little utility called RSS2Email which I give a bunch of feeds to, and then it emails me the content… Say for instance, this blog entry of yours… I customized it a bit so that I have my sites emailing me posts every 5 minutes. Some news sites every 30. Others everyt hour, and others, like people’s blogs that don’t get updated as often, once or twice a day. They don’t always come with the full story, but it works pretty well. Once it’s in my email, it’s there until I decide to make it go away. Besides that, there’s really nothing preventing anyone from going to a website and saving the content as a PDF either. At some point these greedy bastard companies are going to realize that once something is on the intraweb, it’s out of their control and no matter what they do to try and prevent it, people will find a way to work around it.