[iDC] Will you delete your Feedburner account?

Isabel Walcott Hilborn isabel at isabelhilborn.com
Fri Jun 8 07:56:29 EDT 2007

Like many, lurking till now, but this exchange is bringing me out of the
shadows.  This (easy-out) is a nice idea from the user perspective.  But,
speaking as the former evangelist for a universal id solution that would
bring down the "walled gardens" of the web, big companies won't do this.

They cling to every grain of competitive advantage they can get.  The fact
that I have a password for Travelocity and not for Expedia gives them an
advantage that they refuse to give up, not matter how many more people
overall would conduct travel transactions online if it were easier (smaller
piece of potentially bigger pie?  not worth the risk to them, they'd rather
grip the piece of the market they own as tightly as they can).

Therefore, most companies won't willingly want to let you take out the
information you've put in, and take your business elsewhere "easily".  Sure,
some will.  But most start-ups have it written right into their fundraising
presentation: "once users start working with us, they are locked in and will
find it very hard to leave."  That's one of the ways they get that funding
to give us all those cool widgets.  And that's one of the reasons they get
bought for millions of dollars by the big guys.

The problem is that a slick interface and cool technology are in fact all
too easy to copy, and once someone has come up with them, (tagging!  IM!)
they become commoditized.  So if you take out the walled gardens and the
locked-in-ness of data and the other competitive advantages of these
companies that are not based on cool technology or good usability (not to
mention if you take away their IP), you take away their ability to raise
money and be acquired.  Would MySpace have gotten bought if you could, with
one click, remake your profile exactly as it exists, on someone else's
social site?  No.

I think the only thing that can change this is user revolt (or people
stopping being greedy - user revolt's a better bet).  If we all refuse to
use a company that locks in our data, then they will have to make it
easy-out to get our business.  But if something cool comes along online that
we want to use (Blogger? Linked in? Flickr? Twitter? Feedburner?), our
desire to use it may well override our desire for "easy-out" data.

My fifty cents.  Hope I don't get kicked off the list for bringing up some
of the market forces working against distributed creativity. ;-)


On 6/7/07, Andreas Schiffler <aschiffler at ferzkopp.net> wrote:
> Peter Bihr wrote:
> >
> > Maybe a standard, or badge, or commitment to some kind of standard
> > body could be a way to go here, so that companies could adopt a
> > standard of easy-in, easy-out as a sign of good quality and trust.
> > We'd all know what we're in for.
> I was about to post a similar comment to my post before - advocating a
> "Whitelist" of such 'quality'  services. But I held it back, because it
> seems to be a very difficult problem to solve.
> These are some issues with whitelisting web20 services:
> - to avoid digg-style hype it would need some sort of authority, which
> goes against the 'feel' of web20
> - requires a lot of work to have quality ( i.e. time for reviewing, etc.)
> - is difficult to provide impartial information and not follow trends
> Nevertheless such a body would be very useful - especially for cases
> such as the "feedburner" buyout
> - users can help users deal with privacy issues
> - forum can share information on how to facilitate easy-out's
> - forum could suggest alternatives for easy-in's
> - body could assists new services to reach an audience and critical-mass
> (users)
> --AS
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