Open Letter to Google, Feedburner

Dear Google Executives:

I think it’s very interesting how you have chosen to acquire FeedBurner. I think it’s a wonderful investment for you as you can further solidify your offerings.

For instance, you’ll have more reach into feeds to push your Google ads via the FeedBurner Ad Network. For you, this is a fantastic opportunity.

As your mission is to index all the data in the world, to have a window into feeds and how those feeds are consumed in a multiplicity of environments is literally huge. We know that publishers aggregate their feeds and collection of feeds in a variety of different ways, so for you, this is good.

From a platform perspective, your relatively powerful invasion into data presentation with so many major accounts like Dow Jones, AOL and even b5media is nothing but genius.

I write this letter to you, though, as an account holder. Not just an account holder, but an Enterprise account holder. b5media currently powers over 200 blogs through your newly acquired service. We use it to aggregate channel feeds and power various aspects of our network.

FeedBurner is an important partner. Google, however, has not historically been a good partner and Jeremy is even offering a cash prize to anyone who can show us differently. Chad also tells us why he hates Adsense. Granted, this has been on the advertising front, but forgive me if I remain skeptical.

You are effectively taking over our entire feed platform and there’s not really a lot that would prevent us from creating our own feed platform. b5media has historically created things when we find we’re not happy with what’s already out there, so I’m not averse to doing it again.

We can certainly enhance what FeedBurner already offers us in terms of API. The problem is that we have a great relationship with FeedBurner. I feel like we work in the same building regularly. We know these guys. We know you too. Frankly, I’m concerned.

The standard line provided by corporate marketing folks at this point is to assure the customer base that “nothing will change”. I appreciate the fact that that is your job, but really time will tell. I want to trust you, Google. I want to believe that you are not evil, but you have to show me something or I don’t mind considering alternatives.

We start all over. Square one. Day one. Make me trust you.

-Aaron Brazell

P.S. Steve Fisher sees the FeedBurner exit as quite a good example for entrepreneurs.

P.S.S. Andy Beard tells us the 7 good things and 7 bad things about this acquisition. In fact, Digg him.

My Calendar Mashup

Here’s a mashup I just instituted here at Technosailor after some months of trying to figure out how to do it. First, the premise though.

I keep everything calendar related in iCal on my Mac. That is my point of origin and that is non-negotiable. I also need to have my stuff on my Blackberry as well as Google Calendar, because I share several of my calendars with my wife who uses Google Calendar. I am able to sync my Blackberry with iCal in a pretty straightforward way using PocketMac for Blackberry. The problem always came in keeping my Google Calendar automatically updated with iCal.

I tried several things. Gcalsync was a Blackberry application I tried that I hoped would sync the Blackberry Calendar with Google but I could never get it to work the way it was supposed to. There were always java libraries missing or something. Then, Scrybe looked promising but as of this date, I have yet to hear anything more on its development or when and if it will be released. I waited for awhile until Spanning Sync came around. This was sweet and the missing link in my calendar problems.

I downloaded the application and setup syncing between my FIVE calendars and five Google calendars and have been monitoring it for about two weeks now. Everything is getting sent to Google Calendar every half hour like I wanted.

Now the trick was getting my Google Calendar into my blog. Google has this obsession with Atom feeds that I can’t explain and the native WordPress feed parsing library, magpie, doesn’t have Atom ability in the version that is bundled. I could hack something together with SimplePie or some other feed parsing library but I’ll admit to being lazy and not wanting to do it. So I didn’t.

Yesterday afternoon, however, during my podcast with Rick Klau (to be released on Monday), I realized that Feedburner could supply the last little bit of magic I needed. A feature that came out of their Hack Days was the Event Feed under the Publicize tab. It could turn any calendar feed into a chronologically ordered, future-dated only event feed. Then with Buzzboost, under Publicize > Buzzboost, I could grab code necessary to display the HTML rendering of that feed on my blog.

So, using that, I am now displaying my Public Appearances calendar in the sidebar of this blog. While everything is getting a bit cluttered over there, I expect to make more prominent use of this ditty in my future theme that is being developed.

Tell me what you think and if you think this feature could be useful for you.