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No Deathmatch Required

Posted by todd at 1:49 AM on May 25, 2007

A certain blogger thinks that Marshall Kirkpatrick and I should have a online deathmatch. (how do you do that) This was in response to a comment thread on this blog yesterday, along with events that have happened in the new media space over the past month or so that I have been vocal on.

Deathmatch

While the picture from the linked blog is funny as hell, in all honesty I have no issue with Marshall, he is a terrific blogger and generally his commentary is well followed.  

My blog postings during the Splashcast debacle which Marshall was the companies spokesperson for, resulted in measurable number of e-mails to my inbox that were less than complimentary on Splashcasts handling of the issue. Sadly for them that purportedly resulted in companies asking for their content to be removed due to the media re-purposing, not to mention the RSS hijacking.  They have since made changes generally accepted to address most issues.

Anyone that reads this blog or goes back and searches the archives will find that I have held other companies and individuals to the same standard and criticism. What is aggravating in all of the RSS hijacking cases to date, is that those involved knew better. Claiming hijacking was an oversight or mistake is a great cover story. In the end they all knew better in the first place.

I have also in the past discussed my concerns and issues with FeedBurner on this blog, and the folks over their have worked hard adding features that mitigated most of those concerns.

The act of mining personal data on the Internet has been going on for a very long time. Heck I even quit using the Sitemeter stats service because of some crap they were planting and the third party reporting that was going on.

Marshall implied in the FeedBurner article comment section with very few words that the MyBlogLog widget that I run on this site was somehow suspect in relation to the articles subject, resulting in me being hypocritical. He did not even address the contents of the actual article. Thus discounting the heart of the discussion.

Bloggers have raised concerns with Yahoo buying MyBlogLog in that they will be using the traffic data to their advantage. Some will argue my next point of view here, but remember the MyBlogLog service is “opt in”. While I am sure some data goes back to Yahoo it is nothing compared to the motherload of info Google is collecting.

As I alluded to earlier, my issues with FeedBurner goes way back, and well beyond the new Google/Privacy and data mining concerns. I am blown away when I talk to bloggers and podcasters when they say they need FeedBurner. When I ask why, they say because they need a RSS feed. When I point out to them that their blog is already creating a fully functional RSS feed many are dumbfounded.

Here are some long standing discussion points I have had on FeedBurner

  • Why have someone else manage your RSS feed when the high majority of content creation solutions have RSS fully integrated.
  • Modern browsers parse RSS files into a readable format.
  • Media download stats can only be correctly measured with raw log files that show completed downloads and removal of ambiguities
  • Unique RSS traffic tracking is not rocket science
  • Control of ones branding aka geeknewscentral.com/index.xml versus promoting feedburner.com/myusername
  • Updatability my Feed is updated Instantly I don’t have to worry if FeedBurner is running behind in updating feeds.

 In my context the above points were deal busters to me. I am not saying their service is bad, after all a lot of people use it, but I personally think that utilization comes with a price that up to this point was limited to the above talking points.

This numerous acquisitions by Google was the tipping point that made me realize that Google is now watching what we do on so many levels that they truly have become big brother. The matrix one would have to build to show all of Google’s interconnecting data points would probably look like a star space map.

We all need to look beyond the excitement of the deal, and seriously think about how much more powerful Google has become. If the Yahoo/MyBlogLog widget turns out to be as Marshall is implying it will be gone in a New York minute.

I am never going to give anyone a pass when it comes to things I think impact new media creators rights, and consumer privacy.

After all do you like it that a single entity now knows everything you watch, listen, visit or research on the net? Some say look at Internet Service Providers while true they have access to all of our traffic they also are self regulated to a certain extent on what they can share about their customers outside of their internal business.

Here is a story that should take this home. When my wife became pregnant with our third child, she paid for the pregnancy test kit with cash. We visited our doctor the next day . Someplace in that food chain Parenting magazine was notified that we were pregnant and within 7 days started sending us request to subscribe to parenting magazine even though their was 5 years separation between our 2nd and third child and that we had never subscribed in the past. The question I asked was who sold the pregnancy data to that company. To this day we do not know, but it was shocking to get a congratulations baby cochrane from parenting magazine even before we had informed other family members.

What will happen when your life insurance is cancelled because you search and purchase some cheap cigars. Or lets say you are subscribed to a dozen bungy jumping websites and all of a sudden your health insurance goes up. Think it can’t happen, well I would hope that it would not, but how much money can a company save or earn by knowing about your habits?

Imagine we are sorry your home application has been denied because we received information you were searching for a new job. 

It’s time that so called mainstream bloggers stop giving Google a free pass. While I use Google as much as the next person it will be up to the public to decide if Google is starting to become evil. No Deathmatch Required

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