Magic Jewball

all signs point to no


Weighty pronouncements: here to stay

Filed under : The Internets
On August 24, 2007
At 1:30 am
Comments : 21

I know it’s a really cheap shot to look back at predictions of the past and make fun of how un-prescient they were (Hip-Hop is a fad! The boom will last forever! Poor Steve Jobs will never have a successful product, Why telephone when you can shout across the prairie, etc.) but I can’t help myself. I came across an article in the NY Times archives from 2002 entitled “Internet experts wonder if Weblog technology is a powerful new media species, or just another fad.” Yes, quite. But it had these fabulous final paragraphs:

But even among those whose Weblogs have gained notoriety, there are some who see this trend as ephemeral. Take Mark Hurst, who created a Weblog,, in 1999 that he said attracted thousands of readers. Mr. Hurst, the president of Creative Good, a Net consulting firm in New York, eventually stopped posting daily remarks on the Web site and instead simply e-mailed a compendium of comments to a subscriber list that now numbers nearly 50,000 people.

”If you want to communicate with people, e-mail it to them,” Mr. Hurst said. ”Don’t force them to come to your site every day to read what you’ve written.”

God, I would never want to do that. So naturally I had to go have a look at As you might have guessed, it has a blog. I guess that whole “e-mail 50,000 people” thing didn’t end up being the zenith of communication.

Social Distortion – I Was Wrong


21 Comments for this post

  1. ~dogandmusiclover~ says:

    The good news is, with RSS, you don’t have to force people to go to your site every day and to see what you’ve written! It’s right there in the feed reader! Isn’t technology great?

  2. Celia says:

    Argh, that’s what I was going to say. And to speculate that the feed reader might actually be what transformed blogging into a lasting phenomenon, because lots of people (present company excepted) can’t be bothered to visit a blog site to find out if it’s been updated, but will read stuff that comes into their mailboxes.

    But I’m going to say it anyway because I’m closer to being top commenter than I have ever been before or am likely ever to be again.

  3. Becca says:

    Actually, in posting this I thought about that and looked up on Wikipedia when RSS began and it was 1999. I don’t know when it went into widespread use but the article doesn’t mention it at all and Mark Hurst seemed not to have taken it into consideration. Bloglines, the first feed reader I ever heard of, began in 2003.

    And of course I checked, has an RSS feed.

    I currently have about 100 feeds, 95% of which I never click through to the sites, except when the blogger says “I changed my design, what do you think?” There is a fascinating debate which has been going on on the Freakonomics site about partial feeds, the feeds that are just a few lines and you have to go to the site if you want to read more. They switched to that when they moved to the NY Times site and people (including me) are really annoyed. I loathe partial feeds and only subscribe to feeds that use them if I just can’t live without it. Casual interest, forget it.

    And Celia, that’s the spirit!

  4. sarpon says:

    Me too! I thought exactly the same thing. There are a few blogs I read religiously but you can get my attention with my e-mail and my chosen feeds.

    I should stop saying I do anything “religiously;” can one who is without religion be said to act religiously in any field? Considering how much time I spend on the computer/internets I think that from now on I should say that I do things “binarily.”

  5. Becca says:

    I dunno, what does R. Hillel say about RSS feeds?

  6. sarpon says:

    If I do not subscribe to my feed, who will subscribe to me? And if I only subscribe to myself, what do I need RSS for anyway? And if not now — maybe later?

  7. Becca says:

    Well, maybe, but R. Shammai thought we should all visit the website itself. Poor Shammai, always the loser.

  8. kb says:

    I’ve had an email newsletter come into my inbox since I’d say 1997, back when I thought I was interested in marketing.

    I don’t think I’ve read the thing since 1997, actually.

    I keep it coming to my inbox simply because I’m fascinated that it’s still around and that I keep subscribing. (Does that make sense? I keep subscribed to it because I’m fascinated with the fact that I’ve kept subscribed to it for so long? No? Well, welcome to Kelly’s screwed-up little world.)

    I actually hate newsletters/blogs in email, and won’t read them there. I have to click on the site and read them. I’ve got my little routine anyway, so I hit my favorite ones daily unless I’m too busy for my routine that day, or unless I get tired of that particular site for some reason.

    Email is for short messages from friends who want a reply. It’s not for long-duration one-way communication, IML. (In My Life)

  9. Mark Hurst says:

    The only thing I’d add is: front and center on the homepage today is, yes, an e-mail signup form… the same form that was there when that article ran. Even in 2007 the e-mail version of the Good Experience newsletter is much more popular than the Web and RSS versions. Go figure!

  10. Becca says:

    Mark, thanks for stopping by and even more so for taking my gentle ribbing in the good spirit I intended it. That’s extremely classy. Yes, I did notice that but I didn’t realize it’s still so popular! I did recently add a “have my posts e-mailed to you” function and it hasn’t totally taken off. I wonder if it’s a case of people being settled in the format they like and just sticking with it.

    And kb, you might be an example of that too. I do have a few newsletters I’m signed up for but I think it’s because I am too lazy to figure out how to get off. And for me too, some have had me as a subscriber since the 90’s. Except the airline fare sales, those I still like.

  11. Alex says:

    Oh, Sarpon! That was excellent!

  12. kb says:

    maybe it’s the difference between the “cleaners” and the “ignorers”. I’m an ignorer. If I don’t want to read an email, I ignore it and skim for those I want. I only delete the spammy ones that look like they could be malicious. Otherwise, ads, newsletters, etc. They all just drop into my box and get skimmed past. Then they drop away out of sight one day and I never had to do anything! 🙂

    Cleaners probably open their email, delete what they don’t want immediately, and read the rest.

  13. Becca says:

    You know that rule people have about their clothes? Or at least you’re supposed to? That if you haven’t worn it in a year you should get rid of it. I admit, I never do that with my clothes but I do notice e-mail that hasn’t been dealt with in a month and by then I either deal with it or delete it.

  14. kb says:

    yeah yeah yeah yeah I’ve heard that rule. Obviously I don’t follow it though. I’m moving now and paying for my sins. Over the years, there’s been too many clothes in, absolutely none out. It’s really hard to get rid of stuff. It comes in the house nicely packaged in cute little bags. It leaves the house looking like garbage. Embarrassing, even, especially if you haven’t kept up with the job.

    I’m shocked how difficult it is for Americans to get rid of their junk, actually. Extra garbage pickups cost $25/item. A trip to the dump costs $25 minimum for a load. Resale shops are picky about season, hangers and wrinkles. eBay reseller services won’t take things that aren’t name-brand. Rummage sales aren’t worth the time and effort. 1-800-GOT-JUNK probably costs as much as a dumpster on premises. How embarrassing to have a dumpster when you move. You’re supposed to die to justify a dumpster, right? But my stuff isn’t garbage, it’s just excess “stuff.”

    Does Goodwill offer stock? Because I think I should invest. They’re the only way to get rid of anything “easily”, and even they require several trips. Easter Seals comes to the house to pick up items, but you have to have them at the curb by 7 am, which for me means the night before. I hate leaving stuff outside all night.

    At least on the computer, when something disappears, it really disappears.

  15. Becca says:

    kb, when I moved five years ago I donated 7 big garbage bags full of clothes to Goodwill. Some of it was from high school! I think we shop as an activity rather than “I need a new shirt” and that’s why we all have so much stuff. I’m getting better at not doing that and went about six months without buying anything new at all. But since I got my storage space I’m going to have to watch the “I’ll just dump the old stuff down there” impulse.

    But I hadn’t realized that about the difficulty in getting rid of stuff. At the time I moved there was a Goodwill right near my building and I just took a few trips with a big cart over there. The tax deduction coincided nicely with my new itemized status as a homeowner.

    Oh, and nothing on the computer disappears. Don’t make that mistake!

  16. Mark Hurst says:

    You might take a look at a new book called “Bit Literacy: Productivity in the Age of Information and E-mail Overload”, which gets into the idea of “cleaning” the e-mail inbox in more detail. (I’m biased, because I wrote the book 🙂 – see

  17. kb says:

    how much difference does the tax deduction make? My husband waves it off as not even being worth itemizing. But this year with this new house, our tax deduction will be hefty, and I may be able to convince him that it’s worth it to tack on the donation stuff.

  18. kb says:

    Mark, what about a book titled: “Hiring a Cleaning Service for Your Computer Bits.”

    (wish that could be done. I suck at decision-making. “I Just Might Need That Someday” has stuck in my head since childhood.)

  19. Becca says:

    Everyone, check out Mark’s book! I would but I’m too busy cleaning out my closet.

    kb, it depends on your bracket. For me it wasn’t a ton but it felt good to get something back from all that.

  20. Mark Hurst says:

    I guess you could hire someone to clean out your computer bits, but it’s so much faster and easier to do it yourself 🙂 Check out the Amazon reviews of readers who’ve gone through it –

    As for tax deductions, I’d recommend the Wall St Journal “complete guide to personal finance” by Opdyke – very clear treatment of taxes, investing, etc. etc. but I have a good UWS tax preparer if you want a recommendation (e-mail me at mark at goodexperience dot com if you want it)

  21. Becca says:

    Thanks! But I am one of those very rare people who does her own taxes. I actually keep a total all year via spreadsheet so I know how much should be withheld and I can adjust as necessary. I’m a geek!

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