Assessment, Potential, Angst

I serve three items today: a sobering look at RSS penetration, a pointer to a web-casting report, and some journalistic ennui. I pretend no unity of message (although the headline betrays the unpublished novelist in me). Truth be told, however, these are simply the ideas I spotted and could compress into the space and time allotted to my mini media persona.

Thanks to MediaPost for pointing to a Nielsen//NetRatings survey of 1,000 blogospherians, conducted in June, that suggests only 11 percent of blog readers use RSS. Apparently its name — Really Simple Syndication — is a bit of a misnomer. Only 4.9 percent of blogospherians turn on RSS themselves, according to the survey. Another 6.4 percent accept feeds from Web sites that aggregate and pass on RSSed materials. The vast majority of respondents express varying degrees of bewilderment or difficulty in using RSS. (Shame on me for being in this category: RSS sending and receiving are on my to-do list — along with a blog roll, a real web page, Creative Commons licensing, etcetera.)

Viewed in a positive light, the report suggests it is still early days for RSS. So long as I’m on the subject, Bay Area residents mark your calendars: Dave (Mr. RSS) Winer will be hosting a Cybersalon on Saturday, August 20 at 7 pm at the Hillside Club in Berkeley. The topic is OPML, which is described as a way to share “RSS feeds and other online subscription data.” ( Details.)

One final note on the Nielsen//NetRatings survey. If you download the PDF you will be rewarded with data on the fastest growing blogs (MiniMediaGuy still misses the cut!) and the ad dollars-per-impressions paid by big media buyers. The latter figures can be used to compute a rough cost per thousand, useful in creating cash flows.

Moving on to webcasting, today’s Paid Content referenced a recent study by Broadband Directions of video initiatives at 75 cable TV networks and pointed to a free webinar today. If you want to sign up do it ASAP — the event occurs 10 am (PST) today. I don’t know if the briefing will be available later.

Finally, I will simply point to the August 14 lament posted by New York University Professor Jay Rosen, author Press Think (which recently enjoyed its one millionth visitor since September 2003). The posting is entitled, “Things I Used to Teach That I No Longer Believe,” and it is inspired by a panel bearing the same title held at a recently concluded conference of college journalism instructors. You can guess the tenor of the discussion. Read it if you can resist the impulse to feel depressed. Personally, I have little energy to spare on hand-wringing. Every minute and every ounce of strength must go into learning the tools — like RSS — that will allow people like me — people like you, perhaps — to create small examples of the sort of media that we wish existed.

Tom Abate
‘Cause if you ain’t Mass Media, you’re Mini Media