Culture

by Mike Masnick




How Dare You Make My Content More Accessible!

from the missing-the-big-picture dept

There are a few interesting arguments going on in the blog world lately, and while not all of them are directly related, there's a common theme. Services that are trying to make certain websites more accessible are getting slammed by bloggers who are accusing these services of "stealing" content or (my personal favorite) leading to the "loss of potential revenue." What it all comes down to is (oh no, not this again) money and control. It may sound familiar to those of you who have been following the mess that is the entertainment industry, but now that some bloggers are looking to make money, the same disease is happening there. Here are two quick examples. A service called Skweezer is trying to make websites easier to view on mobile devices by "skweezing" out extraneous content on the fly. Here's Skweezed Techdirt, for example. For mobile users, this is pretty cool. They can see the sites they visit without the slow downloads. Of course, sometimes this means without the ads, as well -- and that's got some bloggers screaming away. In another example, a legal blogger has demanded that web-based RSS aggregator Bloglines remove his RSS feeds from their service, because Bloglines is expected, at some point, to put targeted ads into the service. Both of these are cases of myopic decisions that are likely to do more harm than good. The reason these offerings exist is that they help more people access the content in question. If people are using them, that means the sites in questions are lacking a feature their users want. These new services have come to the rescue -- but, like with the music industry, the content owners simply freak out, rather than (a) being happy that someone has done the hard work for them or (b) offering a similar service themselves. The response, of course, is that it's not just about these services making content easier to access, but the fact that they're also adding their own ads -- leading to the inevitable charge of "profiting off the content of others." Of course, that's wrong. They're not profiting off the content of others (if they're profiting at all). They're profiting off of the ability to provide a useful service that makes your content more valuable to the end users. Why aren't these same people freaking out that Google indexes their site, makes it findable and (gasp! oh no!) puts text ads along the results page? If you hadn't figured it out by now, the name of the game is providing what your customers or readers want or they'll just go elsewhere. If a site won't let me view the content in the best way for me, then why should I bother visiting it at all? In the meantime, we're happy to get as many visitors as we can here at Techdirt, so if you prefer to read us via Skweezer or Bloglines or some other service that makes it easier, please, go right ahead. Thanks to the folks at Skweezer, Bloglines and others for making our content more accessible to people in formats they'd prefer.

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  1. identicon
    Alex Chekholko, 18 Jan 2005 @ 7:44am

    Can one object to this?

    If you're the owner of the content, you should certainly be able to request that other sites don't re-process it like that. I think Google listens to the robots.txt file; does Skweeze?
    While I agree that these services are good, there should be an easy way to avoid them, IF you want to for some reason.

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