Ego-blogger Robert Scoble,TechCrunch proprietor Michael Arrington, and others along with many of their followers whiled away the weekend manually tallying up RSS-feed subscriber numbers via Google's Reader application for popular blogs. Why?
Counting feed subscribers — for a single feed-reader application, in a market crowded with many — seems a pointlessly masturbatory activity. RSS feeds allow subscribers to track a blog's posts without actually having to visit a website. As such, what do they really indicate, besides the portion of a site's audience that's technically adept and more than a little lazy? If RSS-feed advertising had any money in it, the tech business bloggers could claim some value to their time well wasted. But there isn't, really; what little business there was, thanks to FeedBurner, went away after Google acquired that company and fired its specialized sales staff, who were just beginning to make inroads with large advertisers. When RSS-feed ads add up to a noticeable source of revenue for these sites, real businesses will count this data. Until then, I'll spend my time researching Google's efforts to automate FeedBurner's ad sales, not joining the circle jerk.