Entertainment: August 2006 Archives
At some point last year, Sam and I realized that spending more time together (which we want to do) isn't going to happen if it means doing stuff we don't enjoy much (ick). Fortunately, we both realized that we have stuff that we want to be doing that intersects at least one of the areas the other likes to do already. For example, I have some programming stuff I want to learn and work on, so we picked up these books to get me started:
I use a fantastic RSS reader, NewsFire, to read most of the blogs and webcomics I bother with. I was starting to get to the point where I was having to choose between reading Livejournal friends (the compulsive friends page refresh does take time) and getting anything else done - much less, you know, reading anything else. Now all my LJ people are safely programmed to beep at me when there's something new and exciting going on, even if it's friends-only. (There's a way to authorize within the news reader. 's good.) I can keep up and still get stuff done. This is the appeal of the RSS reader, and RSS feeds in general. RSS feeds are not without detractors, though, particularly in the web comic field. The Order of the Stick creator Rich rejected RSS a couple of years ago based on the fact that seeing his comics in an RSS reader allowed fans to circumvent the website and the advertisements for stuff that let him get paid, even though RSS feeds can include those same ads. Tatsuya Ishida has never commented on RSS (that I've been able to find using my Awesome Google Powers, at least), but I still have to get Sinfest through an illicit feed. Meanwhile, comics like Penny Arcade and Piled Higher and Deeper opt for no-comic RSS feeds, in which the reader is told there is a new comic, but the comic itself must be viewed on the (linked) website. They're encouraged by syndication sites like Comic Alert, who says that linking to the image directly hurts artists and publishers. Listen - I'm all for comic creators getting paid. If your work is good, that'll happen, though - and I'll bet it happens more with RSS than otherwise, even without ads in your RSS feeds. People reading your comics through RSS reduce your bandwidth expenses, for one. People reading through RSS read every day, reliably, getting hooked on those tough long-term plot arcs - that's two. A good, hooked reader is twice as likely to go to your site on their very own just to seek out that merchandise you're so desperate to sell. And at the end of the day? If you're not totally annoying about it (read: flashing, shoot-the-monkey-win-an-iPod ads), an ad or two at the bottom of your RSS feed would not be objectionable. The bottom line is that I don't have the time to click through and read every one of the 37 sites (including 7 web comics*) I read in a separate window. If they aren't published in a way that makes them convenient for me to read - i.e., with full content - I'm unlikely to continue doing so. (Mitigating factors exist, such as friendship.) So come on. Give me the comic, or the whole article, in your RSS feed. If there's something else you've just got to put in there - ads, disclaimers, whatever - do it, but do it already. Alright? Otherwise, you've lost a reader. * It seems sort of awful to link to all of these comics that are doing things I don't like, while not linking to ones that do - especially since, in the age of Google, a link is almost a vote. The web comics I read are: Dinosaur Comics, PVP Online, Questionable Content, Savage Chickens, Sinfest, Toothpaste for Dinner, and XKCD. Read them. They're good.