I’ve been a long time reader of Alex’s blog at AlexandraSamuel.com. She only blogs occasionally, but her posts are worth the wait. I do all my blog reading in Bloglines, so I rarely click through to actual websites. Tonight I clicked on an item (about an interesting-looking Web 2.0 babysitter finder) in her feed because I wanted it open in my browser to blog about later. When I visited the page just now, I found that the post lived not on her own site, but on Change Everything.
Messages, Mediums and RSS
I gather, at some point, that Alex rolled her ChangeEverything feed into her AS.com feed. It’s a non-issue in this case, because I want to read what Alex writes, regardless of where it’s posted. I did, however, experience a tiny bit of cognitive dissonance. How much is the medium the message when it comes to blogging? I expected the medium to be this site, but in fact it was that one. Does it make any difference at all?
In the past, I’ve cross-posted entries to both DarrenBarefoot.com and Capulet.com. I think, in some subtle, way, there’s a difference between your experience reading the same words on one site or the other. In this case, Alex’s decision to post her entry about finding caregivers on Change Everything suggests that she hopes CareSquare will help, well, change everything. Or at least a little something.
Mind you, when we read RSS feeds, we lose the original medium and it gets replaced with a new, generic one. Jeremy changed the design of his site today (suggestion: when you publish a new design, include a screenshot of the old one for comparison). I might not have noticed if he hadn’t pointed it out. But then, which medium is Jeremy (or me or any blogger) primarily writing for? The all-purpose RSS reader, or his specific site design?
Terms and Conditions
I also started thinking about trust relationships around RSS subscriptions. Alex certainly isn’t the first to change what I get in the feed to which I subscribed. In fact, her shift is tiny compared to others I’ve witnessed. Bloggers have suddently integrated, say, photos and links into what was a traditional blog feed. I’ve had to go and request a blog-only feed, because I didn’t want all that other stuff.
In other cases, the change has been less obvious but more profound. Like any long term creative projects, blogs evolve. And so, of course, do readers. The blog I subscribed to two years might be quite different today–it might have more content, less content, shorter posts, longer posts (guilty as charged, I think) or an entirely new focus.
What are the terms and conditions of the contract we sign when we subscribe to a blog feed? Are there any at all?