Winning RSS Nickname: Webfeed

The winning RSS nickname is: webfeed. This was entered by CONTENTIOUS reader Joshua Jabbour.

This winner was selected by my panel of judges. It also ranked second-highest in the popular voting. Although the nickname elert garnered a few more popular votes than webfeed, the judges believe that webfeed draws a clearer distinction between the concepts of RSS feeds and e-mail alerts.

This contest was rather contentious, and I expect that the winning name will not suit everyone. Well, nothing suits everyone – this is not a one-size-fits-all world. Personally, even I have mixed feelings about the term webfeed because one can publish online content by feed only. (That is, the feed may be the publication, and it may not be associated with new Web content.) However, this is a technical point, and a minor one at that, since the vast majority of webfeeds at this time do refer to updated Web content.

The larger issue is that this nickname eliminates an unnecessary acronym, thus making the concept of feeds more accessible and appealing to a general audience.

So for now, I’ll experiment with using the terms webfeed as well as the more generic feed. I’ll occasionally throw in the term RSS because it is currently popular among early adopters and thus would likely be used in search queries of this blog. Likewise I’m altering a category heading in this blog from “RSS Ramblings” to “Webfeeds (RSS)” to indicate transitioning terminology.

More thoughts on this contest…
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New Features on CONTENTIOUS

Just a quick note: I’ve added a couple of links to the right-hand column of this blog’s home page that might interest you.

  • Feeds Amy Reads: Many people ask me which RSS feeds I read. The answer is: lots and lots, and the list changes virtually daily. If you want to check out which feeds I’m currently reading, I’ve uploaded my list to my Bloglines account, and I’ve shared it as a public file. So whenever you want to see which feeds I’m reading, click the “Feeds Amy Reads” link near the bottom of the right-hand column of any page on this site, and you’ll see my list via Bloglines. Currently this list contains 189 feeds, sorted into 18 categories (folders). And yes, I do scan most of these feeds daily or weekly.

  • Make a donation: Many readers ask how they can help with CONTENTIOUS. Frankly, the best way to help CONTENTIOUS is to free up more of my time to work on this blog. As a self-employed person, time is really money for me. For instance, fierce client deadlines have taken precedence over blogging for me for the last couple of weeks (although I hope to catch up on many blog items over this coming weekend). So I’ve decided to add the now-ubiquitous “make a donation” button to the right-hand column of the home page. Voluntary donations to CONTENTIOUS can be made through Paypal. They are not tax-deductible, but you will receive my sincere thanks and gratitude! Please feel free to submit comments with your donations, such as which topics you’d like to see me cover here.

My Conference Panel on Blogging: Overview

On April 6, 2004, I moderated a panel discussion entitled “Alternative Media: Attack of the Blogs.” This was part of the University of Colorado’s annual Conference on World Affairs. For years this conference has been my annual local brain-food festival, and I was honored to participate.

My panelists were tech journalist Andy Ihnatko (Chicago Sun-Times), politcal correspondent Declan McCullagh (CNet, and LinkTV founder Kim Spencer.

My original plan was to cover this conference in a concise overview – just a few brief notes of the highlights. But damn it, the panel session was just too good! Such a wide variety of perspectives and examples were offered that I finally admitted to myself that I really needed to publish an edited transcript.

So after a lot of work (squeezed in between projects for my paying clients, mind you), I’ve finally pulled that together. Sorry it’s taken me a little over a week.

In the next four entries, I’ve posted key segments of the edited transcript. Where possible, I’ve included links to the sites mentioned by the panelists.

Here’s the index to those segments:

  1. Andy Ihnatko’s opening statement
  2. Declan McCullagh’s opening statement
  3. Kim Spencer’s opening statement
  4. Q&A with the audience and panel

The Q&A is definitely the longest segment, but it’s well worth reading. We had an audience of about 50 people, and some excellent questions and observations came from the audience.

I invite CONTENTIOUS readers to continue this conversation. Please feel free to comment here or add to the discussion in your own blogs. (Send me links or trackback pings for those, please!)

1. Andy Ihnatko: What the Mainstream Media Can Learn from Blogs

PREFACE: This is the first segment of the edited transcript from an April 6, 2004 panel moderated by CONTENTIOUS editor Amy Gahran: “Alternative Media: Attack of the Blogs.” See the index to this four-part series for links to other segments and panelist bios.


Andy Ihnatko writes on technology for the Chicago Sun-Times and other publications…
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2. Declan McCullagh, Blog Skeptic

PREFACE: This is the second segment of the edited transcript from an April 6, 2004 panel moderated by CONTENTIOUS editor Amy Gahran: “Alternative Media: Attack of the Blogs.” See the index to this four-part series for links to other segments and panelist bios.


Declan McCullagh is the lead political correspondent for For nearly a decade he’s run the Politech e-mail discussion list on politics and technology.
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3. Kim Spencer Wants Video Blogs

PREFACE: This is the third segment of the edited transcript from an April 6, 2004 panel moderated by CONTENTIOUS editor Amy Gahran: “Alternative Media: Attack of the Blogs.” See the index to this four-part series for links to other segments and panelist bios.


Kim Spencer is the founder of LinkTV, an independent satellite TV channel that airs global video content (channel 375).
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Changing Minds

I just listened to a fascinating edition of NPR’s Talk of the Nation. Host Ira Glass interviewed Harvard psychologist Howard Gardner, author of the new book Changing Minds: The Art and Science of Changing Our Own and Other People’s Minds. (Audio from this show should be available after 6pm eastern time.)

Gardner discussed how people form deep-seated assumptions and opinions, and listed seven “levers,” or rhetorical techniques, that tend to encourage people to shift their thinking or change their minds. These are useful tools for anyone who creates or edits any kind of content to keep in mind:

  1. Reason (logical arguments)
  2. Research (statistics, etc.)
  3. Resonance (a rather intangible level; when the points you make “feel right” to the people you are addressing)
  4. Representational rediscriptions (making the same point in different ways – words, imagery, actions, etc.)
  5. Resources and rewards (positive reinforcement)
  6. Real-world events (drawing lessons from current events that are predominating the popular consciousness, such as the recent train bombings in Madrid)
  7. Resistances (actually, this involves identifying and directly countering specific resistances that people have developed toward new ideas)

Pluck: Good Feed Reader That’s an IE Plugin

Awhile back, I noted that I thought RSS feeds would really start to appeal to a general audience once the major Web browsers started including built-in feed readers. Well, that wasn’t happening because Microsoft really isn’t doing much with Internet Explorer these days, and AOL and the other major browsers appear likewise to be dragging their feet on this issue.

Then along comes Pluck, a new feed reader that’s a plugin for Internet Explorer. I’ve just tried it out, and it’s pretty good. The interface in some ways resembles my current favorite reader, Feed Demon. Pluck is free and easy to install, and fairly easy to use (Take the “product tour” after you install it, if you’re unfamiliar with using a feed reader.)

SIDE NOTE: I’ve been very, very busy the last couple of days and probably won’t be able to catch up on my blogging until tonight

My Big Blogging Questions

In a couple of hours I’ll be moderating a panel entitled “Alternative Media: Attack of the Blogs.” Since my panel (Kim Spencer of LinkTV, Declan McCullagh of and the Politech discussion list, and tech journalist/blogger Andy Ihnatko) appears to be brilliant, I’ll generally stay in the background and let them to all the talking.

However, I have a few big questions up my sleeve to get the discussion rolling…
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