09 February 2015
Over on Rantbox, I posted a note about 9to5mac killing their full RSS feed, in the same way that TUAW did a while back—which, for me, marked the beginning of TUAW’s decline.
That post prompted the following conversation on Twitter between 9to5 founder Seth Weintraub and myself, which seems to really highlight a disconnect between content publishers and consumers.
As a publisher, Seth is struggling with the challenge of how to sustain his business. But as you’ll read in the exchange, he seems to start with the committed position that what I’m after is a free ride, uninterested in supporting the business behind the publication.
And therein lies, I think, the disconnect, because that’s not the case at all.
As a consumer, I want to read quality content and I want to do it conveniently. Feed readers like Reeder aggregate all the content I’m interested in into a single place, and presents that content uniformly, making my consumption experience efficient and consistent.
But I can sympathize with Seth. Owning one myself, I know that businesses have to earn revenue to sustain themselves, and with online publications, it’s obviously a huge challenge. But in my opinion, trying to kill through technical means the convenience users have become accustomed to is comparable to the music industry’s attempts to stop downloading.
Steve Jobs knew people would pay for quality and convenience, and discovered an innovative model that worked. I’m sure the same can be done for sustaining publications. And indeed, we see many working models already. Through subscriptions and platforms like Patreon, I’ve sponsored content that I enjoy consuming and which maintains a high standard of quality, like that from Daring Fireball, Matt Gemmell, Shawn Blanc and Offscreen Magazine. Each and every one of those contributions were made after the publisher came forward and simply said, “I need your support if I’m to sustain this business.”
At the end of the conversation, Seth and I seem to reach common ground. And that’s a good thing. As long as publishers and consumers are on the same page in terms of understanding the motivations and needs of the other, we all have reason to remain optimistic.