It's all about the Benjamins...

posted Sep 11, 2003

In reply to this:

I'm skeptical, because RSS really is no different than any other page fetched by Http - if sites like CNN, Drudge (etc) have solutions for their main page, then the truly popular RSS feeds will end up using these self same solutions.

I neglected to add a third requirement to the listing, which is that a weblog should be able to scale up without hammering the owner with bandwidth fees. The solution that sites like CNN and Drudge use is to throw more money at the problem, money a weblogger may not have.

One of the goals of this RSS proposal, and other good RSS proposals that involve decentralization, is to make sure that if some 15 year old in Iran, who can barely make it to the computer to post, let alone worry about buying bandwidth, gets popular, she isn't hammered by bandwidth fees she can't even come close to paying. For that matter, if I was as popular as Instapundit, I'd have been forced to shut down by now. I don't have as much money to throw at bandwidth, or connections with a hosting company, or whatever it is he has to stay afloat.

In fact, it was always about the money; if bandwidth was free then there wouldn't have been a problem last time, either, and we'd all still be using aggregators that didn't use E-tags or step back the scanning when a weblog doesn't change. But bandwidth isn't free and it's a legitimate pursuit to try to make weblogs affordable, even in the face of thousands (or millions for a few weblogs, within the next couple of years) of readers.

The bandwidth crunch will come again, it's a mathematical inevitability if weblog readership keeps growing and unless the Zipf distribution radically changes (hint: no). If we don't want to restrict the top-end of the weblog world strictly to commercial interests or wealthy people... and for some of us the ability for Everyman to be published, found if interesting, and discovered to be a National Treasure is half the charm of the medium... we need to do something that doesn't require wealth to work.


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