Remember Pointcast? You know, the allegedly killer “push” technology of the mid-1990s? The one that was supposed to replace Web browsers in terms of delivering online information, but which then disappeared in 2000?
A Nov. 19, 2003 entry by Neil McIntosh in the weblog of UK newspaper The Guardian, “Top 10 Internet Fads,” makes an interesting observation about an entry and discussion of the same title happening at Kuro5hin. Pointcast made the #1 spot on Kuro5hin’s list of dead Net fads.
McIntosh notes, “Well, I’ve got one word for you: RSS. In tandem with apps like NetNewsWire, it bears more than a passing resemblance to PointCast. Push (whisper it) isn’t just still alive, it’s thriving, so healthy it’s cool.”
I think it’s worth remembering what killed Pointcast….
Pointcast was a resource hog. That made it difficult and buggy to use given the technology and bandwidth of its time.
Also, Pointcast was a company. It wasn’t just a technology, it was a service offered by a single company that was bankrolled by venture capital during the dot-com boom of the 90s. Venture capital and media efforts rarely seem to mix well, from what I’ve seen. Robust media takes time to mature and develop, and VC simply doesn’t have the patience for that.
Personally, I think the two keys to success to RSS are that no one owns it, and it’s technologically lean. That makes it versatile, flexible, and free.