Ask Dave Taylor: Tech and Business


Ads in RSS feeds? Corrupting the idea of information syndication

It was inevitable, I suppose, but I'm still upset about this change in the blogosphere: One of the new announcements from Google's AdSense program is that they're beginning to support adding targeted advertising in RSS feeds.

What's an RSS feed? Different people are going to give you different answers, but my view is that it's an information syndication and communication channel that lets me use tools to track changes and updates to lots of Web sites with a single unified application. So, for example, instead of visiting newswire Web sites or popping over to weblogs from my colleagues and friends, I just use a delightful tool called NewsGator and easily keep track of almost 150 different Web sites and RSS feeds simultaneously.

Until this week, RSS has all been ad free, and one of the truly great things about using an RSS aggregator, as they're called, is that I've been able to focus on the content, not the presentation: even the most funky Web design produces a simple text-only RSS feed.