In a heated discussion this evening on Twitter, which will probably be written up in a number of tech journals, I used the term "open web." Someone asked me to define it, and of course that's basically impossible in a 140-character format. I wish people would factor that into discourse on Twitter.
If I put stuff in Twitter, the only way to get it out is through a heavily regulated and always-changing API. It will change a lot in the coming months and years. It will certainly narrow more than it expands. I feel very confident in predicting this, because I understand where Twitter is going.
If you put stuff in Facebook, it's even more silo'd than it is in Twitter.
However, if you put stuff in WordPress, even on wordpress.com, you have full fluidity. You are not silo'd. You can get data in and out using widely-supported APIs that are implemented by Drupal, Tumblr, Posterous, Movable Type, TypePad, etc etc. At least there's some compatibility. And in a pinch you could probably move your content to a static website and have it be useful.
Imho the supposed thought leaders of Silicon Valley are not thinking and to the extent they are leading, they are leading us to a bad place. They have more at stake in the open web than I do, because they have built their livelihoods around it. I actually have not. I support myself with my investments and savings, and if the open web died tomorrow, I'd still have plenty of money and I wouldn't starve, and none of my employees would be laid off because I don't have employees. So when they think they're hurting me by taking shots at the open web, which is exactly what they're doing when they take shots at RSS, they're mistaken. They're actually hurting themselves more than they're hurting me.
If they really think RSS isn't delivering good value for them, then they should stop publishing TechCrunch on the web, and post it exclusively as Facebook at Twitter content. Maybe a little Quora stuff too. Since RSS is dead, according to them, the web must also be dead. I just don't see how RSS could be dead and HTML would be thriving. They're really different faces of the same thing.
They must know it's bullshit, but they say it anyway. That's the hypocrisy. They seem to expect to be able to bully people into being silent about it, and for some people it works. But the dynamic changed when they sold to AOL. I don't believe for a minute that AOL would let them cut off their web presence and depend exclusively on Facebook and Twitter for distribution. If they really tried it, they'd fire the whole team and hire new writers before they let them do it. The idea is ludicrous. TechCrunch is defined by its presence on the open web, and that, like it or not, makes RSS a requirement, not an option.
And I have no reason to keep silent. I don't have a product that requires publicity from TechCrunch. I will do fine if they don't ask me to speak at their conferences. They really have no power over me. So I'm going to go ahead and say what I think.
Update: The new beautiful wikiriver.org, which went live today, is a perfect example of why it's in all our interest to keep RSS strong. It's so good at getting us the news we need to be informed.