10,000 reasons to read Adam Curry

Adam Curry has revealed an interesting investment he made in UserLand 18 months ago: He paid $10,000 for his weblog to be included in Radio's default RSS subscriptions. Now he thinks the Echo Project's work is undoing his canny marketing:

I will again invest $10k in aggregator default placements this year, but I will spread it around, to all developers who adhere to RSS2.0. Include (N)echo and you're out of luck.

I don't understand his concern. If an aggregator can read a format, so can its users. Radio could dump RSS 2.0 for another format overnight and Curry would still get what he paid for: a built-in audience of aggregator users.

This deal is likely to take some heat because it was never disclosed to Radio users that Curry bought his way onto the list. Though I'm surprised to learn this, Web browsers have been selling positions in their default bookmarks for years.


It's weird to threaten to withhold an investment (or kickback) if anyone supports x technology. But it's also clear that Adam has a fuzzy grasp of RSS issues. He had a funny summary a while back that had just about every factoid wrong (it was something like "As I understand it, Dave Winer invented RSS and Netscape stole it from him..." and kind of went on in that vein, heavily refracted but recognizable as sherds of the true-but-tedious saga).

Hey, he is a media guy, he is not supposed to understand technology ;-)

But I think his decision is weird, too. It doesn't make sense from any standpoint I can take. I don't know what he thinks this will give him - the best outcome of this can only be that people call him silly, but he won't stop any movement, as the money is far to small to help bigger companies and all those private hackers on the NEcho Wiki won't be targeted by his approach at all.

Weird, weird world.

Georg, you might have it there - he is a media guy, and an action like this is likely to generate publicity, which is what media types crave. People who aren't familiar with the situation may see it as a noble deed, it doesn't matter that a lot of developers will think it was plain daft.

I think Curry has taken on the time-honored tradition of "talking out of his ass" to use a Cadenhead term. Then again, if we all stuck to talking about what we knew then weblogs wouldn't exist. I say congratulate Adam for proving again the old theory that a fool and his money are soon parted.

Disclose all pertinent information about your interests.

How and where do you disclose conflicts of interest? What's considered fair notice? The Web offers more bandwidth for writing than print. A website can contain many more paragraphs than a print magazine. Now, it seems, there's no excuse for not fully disclosing conflicts.

But what about integrity? I don't see the problem. I run my software business with integrity. I also write with integrity. I say what I think. I don't mind being wrong. And I listen to other people, and point to opposing viewpoints. I clearly disclose my interests. I don't sign non-disclosure agreements. What else do I have to do to establish my integrity? Imho, nothing.

I started blogging because the professional journalists carry such huge conflicts, and often don't disclose them. They have to do it to keep their jobs.
Now as a result I am a total hardass when it comes to undisclosed conflicts.

I thought about Dave's comments regarding editorial integrity also, anonymous, but I don't think they apply here because there's no expectation that journalism is being practiced in a software program's default RSS subscriptions (or default bookmarks). If anything, it's a little silly to expect that a commercial product wouldn't sell spots in its default configuration list.

Though I assumed that all of Radio's subscriptions were personally selected rather than commercial, that was based entirely on the idea that no one would pony up money to get listed there.

On the whole, I have no problem with an aggregator developer selling placement in its default subscriptions list, as long as users are free to dump that RSS newsfeed at any time (for me, Adam's $10K bought about a week in my aggregator before I dumped most of the defaults).

How about links on his weblog? Would you be just as apologetic for him if someone leaked tomorrow that they had paid $10000 for a link in his blogroll? How about a nice friendly writeup and a link to a new project from the front page of scripting.com?

How do we know he hasn't done this already?

Describing me as "apologetic for him" is a cheap shot, considering the fact that I was the second weblogger to call attention to Adam Curry's deal.

To answer your hypothetical question, I would have a problem with a weblogger posting sponsored items and links without disclosing this to the audience.

I apologize for the "apologetic" comment. It wasn't meant to be rude. You're defending him by saying "well, everybody does it" (in browsers), and that surprises me. Let me rephrase: "would you /defend/ him in the same manner if we were talking about links on his weblog instead of in his products?" I see the answer is no.

Now think about my second question: how do we know he's not doing this already?

*sigh* Time to go post an editorial policy, I guess. I liked my weblog better before it needed so many policies...

We don't know, but my strong presumption is that Dave would be offended if someone tried to pay him to say something on Scripting News. UserLand doesn't seem to spend any time at all looking for ways to commercialize their Web sites -- weblogs.com alone could probably turn a profit by running Google ads.

>We don't know, but my strong presumption is that Dave would be offended if someone tried to pay him to say something on Scripting News.

I get the distinct impression that Dave isn't the type of person who gets offended by opportunities to make money.

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