This weekend TechMeme shows that bloggers are pretty anxious about the new service called Shyftr. Shyftr is a new RSS service that allows people to comment on blog posts. The discussion is not taking place at the original blog, instead it is taking place on Shyftr. While some seem to like the service, others talk about theft. Tony Hung feels Shyftr has crossed a line :
However, in my mind, when a service cannot exist *without* republishing others content in its entirety, and directly profits from that republishing without the original consent of the author, there’s something that isn’t right.
Frederic at the Last Podcast takes a different view:
The way I see this is that by publishing my feed, I give you consent to use it in services like RSS readers, aggregators, memetrackers etc. Using the same reasoning we can accuse Gabe Rivera for building a business on top of our writing with Techmeme – it’s profitable and it couldn’t exist without using our feeds. Neither could Google Reader, RSSMeme, FriendFeed, LinkRiver or any other service based on feeds.
These services are explicitly not just simple content scrapers because they a) give me credit for my work (even if that doesn’t need to translate into ‘traffic’ coming to my site) and b) create value around the feeds through allowing commenting, aggregation with other feeds etc.
And Robert Scoble goes one step further and declares that the era of blogger’s control has ended:
Anyway, I am seeing this trend big time. Over on FriendFeed I’m seeing better comments than I see on most blogs (and more quantity too).
The era when bloggers could control where the discussion of their stuff took place is totally over.
This is a trend that the best bloggers should embrace. Me? I follow wherever the conversation takes me.
I believe that he web, the flow of ideas, thoughts, conversations, business, they all exist due to it’s open character. But I would take this one step further.
The web cannot exist if idea’s, content, conversations aren’t set free. It is a false illusion that you can claim a thought, an idea, a piece of content if you publish it on the web. How would you know it is yours? Where did you get the inspiration, the idea, the content? Can you be sure it is truly original. That is, you, and only you have ever thought about it and published it first?
I doubt Robert ever had any control over the conversations he might have started. I sure hope not. Conversation takes place everywhere. On the web, at home, in a restaurant, with family, friends, work, you name it. There is no controlling that, but we shouldn’t want to either.
I see people opposing this idea because it might cost them traffic, and therefore income. If that’s the case you better deal with it. There isn’t a single blog in the world that creates traffic on it’s own. We all create traffic to our blog by writing sensible stuff about things other people have been writing about too. By linking to these people we create our own set of followers. Is that bad? Of course not. People will have to find you in order to decide if you are worth reading. Blogging shouldn’t be about traffic of pageviews, it should be about inspiring other people.
Some say it is ok as long as the credits go to the original poster. I guess that is fine, although it is sometimes impossible to see who is the “original” blogger. Just to be clear on this, copying someone else’s blog post and writing your own name above it isn’t right. That is just lame. But when a lot of bloggers are circling around a specific topic it is sometimes impossible to reconstruct where the circle started. Trying to be as thorough as possible when linking is the best we can do.
To be honest. If a blog post of mine leads to discussion anywhere on the web I would be very satisfied with it. I’m not in it for the traffic, the amount of readers, the number of pageviews. I blog because I believe that I might be able to give something to the people that want to take the time to read my stuff. I get inspired every day by reading amazing blog posts of some really smart and creative people. It enriches my life, my experiences. The least I can do is to return that favor. It that inspires people to talk about it, copy it, rip it, do anything with it, then it makes my day. It tells me that the things I have written could perhaps inspire others to do something with it, completing and starting new circles.
(image taken from a post on the IT Security blog: http://tinyurl.com/52n54p)
You can’t claim a thought, an idea, a conversation , even a blog post once it is out there. Better deal with it now and set it free. Who knows what it will lead to ;-)