There’s an old quote from Tim O’Reilly that I really love, and it seems to be getting better with age. Tim simply said:
Obscurity is a far greater threat to authors and creative artists than piracy.
While you can worry about people copying your content or stealing your ideas, your far bigger concern is having no one care at all.
I’ve seen this come up recently in two different places.
Full RSS or no?
The first was from a friend of mine in the WordPress community. I respect her work, and simply disagreed on this issue, so I won’t call her out directly.
Her post was essentially “don’t let people steal your content” and was a list of all of the ways you can lock it down. She took it further by encouraging people to only post partial content anywhere (including email and RSS feeds), to force them to click through to your site to read everything.
That can work to some degree to stop theft, but by forcing people to click you’re making it easier for people to ignore you. You’ll stop most of the spammers, but you’re also risking greater obscurity.
I see the opposite with Rick Kitagawa, one of the coaches in my recent altMBA experience.
Rick publishes a blog post every day. However, you can consume it wherever you want and you don’t need to click through to his site to read it — he just wants the message to get out. Some of the places he publishes:
- You can read it on his site, of course.
- If you sign up for his email, the full content comes to you there.
- If you follow his RSS feed, the full content comes to you there.
- He also publishes the full content on sites like LinkedIn.
His goal is clearly to spread his message, and he knows the results will come back in his favor. By making his content easy to find, consume, and share, he’s setting himself up to be a great authority.
That’s the kind of practice I like to see.
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