Tag Archives: RSS

Aaron Brazell

Vetoing FeedBurner

I’ve been a fan of FeedBurner for a long time. Going all the way back to the early days at b5media when they were a good company. Then they sold out to Google, and I warned any who would listen exactly who they would become. It was denied, though (most likely in good faith), and then they went down hill. Since the Google acquisition, they have slowly ported over to Google servers and infrastructure – an enhancement that was supposed to help. I can honestly not say if it has or it hasn’t. What I do know is that they are not noticeably better.

Then, of course, they had an outage today.

I’d call that the equivalent of calling out sick on the third day of a new job.

In the next 30 days, I have decided to remove all of my content from FeedBurner. They no longer have my vote of confidence, nor do I trust their competence. It’s probably a management thing more than technical. Much of the same team is still in place as was prior to the Google acquisition. You know, when they were good.

Please ensure that, if you subscribe to this feed using a feed reader (You really should use a feed reader… it does make blog reading so much easier. Despite my clear disdain for Google in this matter, I swear by Google Reader), you are subscribed to


For the time, this URL redirects to FeedBurner, but it will soon not and you don’t want to lose the feed subscription.

For a very long time, we have needed a viable alternative to FeedBurner. I don’t think we need all the bling that FeedBurner offered necessarily. But we do need an alternative to FeedBurner that will take a feed, normalize it for the most feed readers, provide some insight around readership (such as number of subscribers) and an extensible framework/API for using and publishing that data.

I’d very much like to talk to anyone who is developing options around this concept.

Aaron Brazell

Feed Subscriptions Are So Important

When I left b5media, I had established a base of over 1300 feed subscribers on this blog. I was proud of that because, let’s face it, if you aren’t a news site breaking news all the time, people are not as inclined to subscribe to a feed.

The feed at that time was hosted via FeedBurner with whom the network had an enterprise account with. As a member blog of b5media, and one of the folks that tested and pushed FeedBurner on the network, my blog was one of the first hosted under their CNAME policy. The CNAME policy allowed us to brand feeds with b5media (http://feeds.b5media.com as opposed to http://feeds.feedburner.com).

Obviously, I had some branding concerns to deal with and I contacted FeedBurner for a solution that would allow me to take control of my feed and retain the subscriber base I had established over a period of time.

FB: Simple. We can transfer it under your Feedburner account if you’d like
Me: Yeah, let’s do that.
FB: Oh wait, your feed is under the Feedburner Ad Network and so because of financial logistics involved with b5media owning that feed URI, we cannot transfer it. But, you can burn a new feed, delete the old and use 30 day redirection to send people to the new feed.
Me: Okay, that makes sense.

And off I went. I burned the new feed, deleted the old with redirection, and looked at numbers over the next few days. My feed subscribers had dropped to almost a third of what they were (down to about 400 subscribers).

By the time I realized that I had been nipped in the bud by the CNAME issue, it was too late and all those subscribers were gone with no way to communicate to them about re-subscription.

Over the past 3 months, I have rebuilt to around 850 – still a large distance from where I was, but slowly getting there. If you haven’t re-subscribed yet, please do so now.


Feeds are our bread and butter in blogging. Knowing that there are people subscribed to a blog, provides direct value to bloggers. It helps us understand the dissemination of our content and the reach of our audience. We value page-views, obviously, but feed subscriptions may be the most tangible metric of actual reach available.

When you find a blogger that you enjoy, vote with your feet (or clicking finger) and add their blog to Google Reader or one of the other many feed readers (most of which are free). We really do appreciate it. It makes us feel that the work we’re putting in is actually making a difference.

Other feeds that we provide:

Aaron Brazell

Feed Updates

This weekend has been filled with lots of sprucing up and shifting around of various portions of this blog. The navigation has been streamlined. Author bios have been added to every post. The about page is less about me and more about the writers and content here. And there has been some feed shifting.

Currently, there are five feeds you should know about:

  • Technosailor Feed – This feed contains all content except Spanish and Photoblog content
  • Venture Files – This is all Venture Files content written by Steven Fisher
  • Spanish Feed – All spanish content has been removed from the main feed by request of readers. It can be found in the separate feed. All content is written by Carlos Granier-Phelps.
  • Photoblog – This category is an experiment and an educational opportunity to highlight one of my photos in each post. As I’m a rookie photographer, posting each one provides me an opportunity to learn from others. The feed is not completely functional at the moment as the photo itself is not being included in the feed.
  • Google Shared Items are the items I find in my Google Reader that I find interesting and have decided to share with you

Though I’d like to think the feed shuffling happened transparently, I’m thinking there may have been problems. So if you’re concerned or have questions, just make sure you have the correct feed. And thanks for reading.

guest blogging

Qué Pasa con Latinoamérica y los RSS

Parece que aquel viejo dicho de “La información quiere ser libre” no aplica en Latinoamérica. Un breve estudio de medios latinoamericanos con presencia en Internet parece indicar que la gran mayoría todavía no adopta un modelo de distribución abierto.

Preparando el website inicial de NotiLat.com visité 115 websites de medios latinoamericanos en Argentina, Chile, Colombia y Venezuela y encontré que sólo 37 de ellos -un 32%- ofrecían algún tipo de canal RSS para distribuir sus noticias. Algunos de estos canales RSS no funcionaban correctamente, se encontraban en alguna carpeta protegida o no se ajustaban a las especificaciones del formato.

RSS in Latin American Media

Adopción del formato RSS dentro de los Medios Lationamericanos

Del 68% restante (78 medios), pude salvar 27 creando un canal RSS artifical con Dapper. El resto de los websites permanece escondido detrás de arcáicos formatos HTML, links que funcionan con javascript y modelos cerrados de suscripción. Es una lástima, pues lo que realmente les hace falta es exposición. A medida que facilitemos la distribución de la información que generamos, facilitamos la publicidad de nuestro servicio.

Y ustedes, ¿qué medios utilizan para mantenerse informados de lo que ocurre en Latinoamérica? ¿Cuáles te facilitan la tarea de compartir su información? ¿Se justifica un modelo cerrado?

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Aaron Brazell

Operation: 1000 Subscribers

There is a major milestone approaching here at Technosailor, and since I don’t really feel like writing anything of any real substance tonight, I figure now would be a good time to point out that we are approaching 1000 RSS subscribers here at Technosailor. In fact, I’ve made it easier than ever to subscribe to three different feeds here at Technosailor – the English language feed (which is also the main one), the Spanish language feed, and my Google Reader Shared Items feed – by providing those options in the sidebar.

Notably, however, I’m also displaying how many active subscribers there are (according to FeedBurner) in the sidebar as well. For me, it will be a monumental milestone when I break that elusive 1000 subscriber number. Help me get there if you aren’t already subscribed. :)

Aaron Brazell

Organic Feed Reading

There is so much information shooting around on these interwebs that sometimes I have a hard time keeping track of all the conversations I want or need to be a part of.

Yes, of course I use Google Alerts to do vanity searches on my name, but I’ve found that in the past three or four months, I’ve got more value out of subscribing to search feeds. Now I search for everything – particularly on Google Blog Search. I’ve put much less focus on subscribing to individual site feeds (though I do that too), and instead search keywords and track them around the blogosphere. Actually, it’s been a fantastic way of keeping track of conversations and making sure I’d know about the conversations I need to be in.

I could see PR folks making use of search feed aggregation more than site feed aggregation. Do you use search feeds? Do you use them a lot? Have they begun to take up a significant portion of your reading patterns?

In case you don’t know how to get search feeds from Google Blog Search, this video demonstrates how.

Aaron Brazell

The Problem with RSS

RSS is the lifeblood of bloggers. It is the means to unspeakable content distribution to a wide variety of places. It is the means to an end that is widespread readership. Techcrunch has 461k readers who read the content via readers such as Bloglines, Google Reader, mobile RSS readers such as the Viigo app we have launched for Blackberries as well as unknown other syndication deals.

RSS is the life blood of blogs and new media types.

However, that’s where it stops. The problem with RSS is that that simple three letter acronym strikes fear and trembling into the masses. People like my father don’t know how to read my content in any other way other than using his web browser to surf on by – if he remembers. Most people still don’t subscribe to podcasts – they listen to them in flash players or by direct download from the web.

This is the barrier to Web 3.0 and so far no one has figured out how to hurdle that barrier.

While RSS stands for Really Simple Syndication, outside of tech circles, people have no clue how to even use Internet Explorer 7 to subscribe – and more importantly follow and consume – syndicated content. Even the good folks at FeedBurner Google dump a nice front end on the front of RSS pages (click here to see mine) but then what does the average user do with that? There is a gap of education missing.

Maybe the gap of education isn’t missing but the format is lacking?

Web 3.0, in my eye, is a departure from standard modes of interaction with computers and the internet. It is the removal of the need for keyboards, mice and screen; an expansion beyond the limitations of the screen. It is mobile and distributed content. It is distributed content.

Twitter is early Web 3.0 as the need for the computer and interaction from the standard web browser is removed in place of the interaction of text messaging. That is just the beginning.

It seems clear to me that the person who figures out how to bridge the distributed content gap from low mainstream adoption to critical mass, will be the winner of the race to Web 3.0 and will likely be a very rich person for life.

Aaron Brazell

The Happiest Moment in the RSS and Reader Marriage is in the Engagement

Over the weekend there was a huge buzz over new RSS subscriber numbers that Feedburner was reporting due to a change in how Google Reader was reporting their stats. The bounce was reported as high as 250% by bloggers like Jeremy Shoemaker to more average bounces of around 30% by bloggers like Stowe Boyd. My own bounce was 32%. The change has prompted many to begin to re-evaluate assumptions previously held for a long, long time. One of those was my own boss, Jeremy Wright, who mused, “Google is now, or is soon set to be, the world’s #1 feed reading software / destination / feature.”

Without losing the forest through the trees, FeedBurner has just let loose with some blistering analysis of the trend. And they are spot on. While the assumption is made that bigger is better, Feedburner examines the data and arrives at the conclusion that the motion of the ocean is actually significantly different.

Not all subscribers are alike. Yahoo reports active subscribers over a rolling 30-day period. Most other web-based readers report the total number of individuals who’ve subscribed, regardless of whether they have actually logged in recently.
Default feeds are popular. (Yes, this is an early frontrunner in 2007 “Painfully Obvious Bullet” balloting.) Said differently: many aggregators offer a set of default feeds for every new account, or provide “bundles” of feeds by category. These feeds will get disproportionately high subscriber numbers at specific aggregators.

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