The "Yahoo" Problem

It is funny how the side you take influences your position. Dave Winer spends a great deal of time talking about the need to properly give credit to those who create solutions. When it comes to the unintended consequences of a "solution" - aka a problem - he is quite happy to pass the buck. He sites The Yahoo Problem. Wait a minute though, what product was it that started the trend towards putting a little icon on the page for each different news-reader? That's right it was Userland's Radio, which Winer was a key intellect behind.

How did this become the Yahoo problem anyway? They are amongst the latest to pile on the "add this to whatever" bandwagon. And is setting up a collection of competitive directories for people to store their RSS subscriptions in one of several centralized data vats really the answer? The solution proposed by Winer has a clause stating there should be open competition. So for a while everybody plays nice, and then when AOL and Time Warner split they setup competing services. And very soon we're back to a whole bunch of buttons that don't do much for anybody but clutter up the landscape.

In fairness, Winer has removed the Radio button from his main website, but the orgins of the problem lie in the early foundation of the idea there should be a button to subscribe to specific news readers.