What’s in a Name? RSS and Attitude

Seems that my Rename RSS contest has caused a bit of a stir. Many people seem interested in the idea; a few others seem considerably less than thrilled.

It’s fascinating to me how the very concept of a name can spark a strong sense of both imagination and attachment. I’m finding this contest to be quite an intriguing experiment! I’ll be curious to see the end result. I don’t have any particular expectations, I just thought this should be tried.

Many people seem intrigued by the idea of renaming RSS. In the last couple of days I’ve gotten a LOT of entries – it’ll take me a little while after posting this article to catch up with adding them all to the entry list.

Also on the positive side, this contest has been noted and linked to in several other places – including Lockergnome and Scott Rosenberg’s Salon blog. And I’m amazed that this contest is getting considerable attention in European blogs, including the popular German blog Telepolis

On the “not so thrilled” side, some reactions to this contest have ranged from cynical to indignant – and I suspect I may have inadvertently offended Dave Winer, a prominent RSS pioneer…
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Interesting Discussion: Does RSS Need a New Name?

Looks like I’m not the only one considering the possible benefits of giving RSS feeds a catchier, less geeky name. (Read about my contest to rename RSS).

Here are some other current writings and discussions of this topic:

Worth reading!

CONTEST: RSS Needs a Catchier Name!

(OK, a server glitch ate my original posting about this contest, so I’m reposting with updated information…)

TO ENTER THIS CONTEST or view the current list of entries:

RSS feeds are a great way to publish or read online news and updates. The trouble is, RSS is still too geeky for the vast majority of people. It’s not just the technology, or the fact that you need a feed reader service or software – the name itself is an obstacle.

I see it all the time when I tell people about RSS. When they hear me say “RSS” I see their eyes start to glaze over. It’s yet another Internet acronym – and acronyms are inherently geeky.

So in order to appeal to a mass audience, RSS probably needs a catchier name. Something that captures the popular imagination, the way “World Wide Web” did (compared to the geekier “HTML”). Think about it – which terms are more popular? “SMS” or “text messaging?” “SMTP,” “POP,” or “e-mail?”

Therefore, CONTENTIOUS is sponsoring a contest to rename RSS! Through Dec. 31, 2003, you can suggest up to three potentially catchier names for RSS.

At the close of entries, you get to vote for your favorite name. The final winner will be selected by a panel of judges, who will take the popular vote into consideration.

Enter today!

Ask for the Sale

I’ve just returned from a two-day conference with a select group of online entrepreneurs. This event gave me plenty of great ideas that I’ll be putting to use in my business, especially as I launch my series of e-books in 2004 (on the topics for which I also offer talks and workshops).

The most important lesson I drew from this conference was about building my business. See, I’m an independent writer, editor, and trainer. I’m in business for myself, and no one is going to build my business but me.

This CONTENTIOUS weblog is a key tool for attracting clients – but I haven’t been making the best use of it in that regard. So far, I’ve been far too understated in how I tell my readers I’m actively seeking new projects and speaking engagements.

My colleagues at this conference looked at CONTENTIOUS and said, “Uhm, Amy, you’re not really asking for the sale.”

DUH! They were right! I did have a link to my Gahran.com site, which explains and advertises my many services (and which I recently overhauled in order to more accurately reflect the kinds of work I’m currently seeking). However, nowhere on CONTENTIOUS did I specifically clarify that I am available for hire!

OK, I’m now taking steps to fix that….
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Media Credibility: Practice or Perception?

In response to my earlier posting, “Online Free Speech Case Shows Need for Thick Skin,” Martin Cahn, who writes for a small newspaper, wrote an extensive and thoughtful comment, which is well worth reading. (It’s listed beneath that article).

In part, Cahn noted: “My point is that, to me and many others I speak to, the ‘big media,’ whether in print, online or on the air, are the ones with the credibility gap, not smaller papers like mine and not independent providers like you.”

I understand what he’s saying. However, I personally believe that both the major media and the smaller/independent media have earned their share of credibility “darts and laurels” (to borrow from Columbia Journalism Review).

Media credibility is both a matter of practice and of perception…
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