What's deliciously ironic is that Qumana has been roundly criticized by these very blog snobs for being a "dumbed down" product. For a good summary of what Qumana is, read Michael Arrington's original, friendly, review.
John Jantsch has some insightful commentary on RSS today. It's a truism that within a group, new words, concepts, and practices emerge and these become to the keys to entry into the group. RSS this is one of those things for many Internet users. Does my mom care about RSS? No, she just wants an easy way to keep up on my blog (I don't think she reads it often ... that's okay because she's busy teaching Sex Ed in the public schools). I really like these two paragraphs in this post and I think it says it all:
You don't do this by trying to convince someone that they "should" know that this is the de facto standard for an RSS feed. Maybe someday, but I doubt it, will mean something to everyone, but right now it says to some, "I'm a blog snob and this is the only way you can subscribe to my blog so, if you don't know what this is then, go away."
I find Qumana to be extremely smart where it counts--which is in streamlining the small, repetitive motions involved in posting to my blogs. When I click the link button in the WYSIWYG editor bar, the field auto-fills with the last thing I cut and pasted. This may not sound like much, but when you are writing a post with a half-dozen links, cutting the number of clicks per link in half and reducing the mouse-mileage by half as well is absolutely brilliant. Qumana creates exactly this kind of gestural economy throughout. In Typepad, the category default is set to a single category; selecting multiple categories is a chore. In Qumana, you check the categories you want, with no control key to hold down, and no false distinction between single and multiple categories. SixApart should have corrected this annoying hurdle long ago. Guess they're just not "dumb" enough.
It takes a pretty dumb bunny to think that complicated = sophisticated. There are three reasons to write your blog posts in html: it's faster; you can do more stuff; you think it makes you one of the cool kids. I've had about enough of this geek chic mentality--it fosters bad design. Good design is sleek, user-transparent, dumb as dumb can be.
To trot out an analogy, look at the propagation of the automobile in our culture. Most of us are taught to drive casually, by friends and family. The rules of the road are clear, the design and operation standards cross-platform are virtually invisible, and while there is room for a "professional" class of driving instructions and professional drivers, this isn't a barrier to any one individual's participation in the autosphere. Now, imagine if certain automotive snobs had insisted that the auto industry limit itself to creating twitchy cars that could only operate on the Bonneville Salt Flats or an indy track, and commercial vehicles so complicated to operate that only "professionals" or true enthusiasts could own cars, and then only as a business.
Now, taking that analogy a step further,conjure an image of all of the technologies in your daily life--phone, blender, dvd player, washing machine--imagine having to invest hours, days or weeks in learning not to push a button, but to code the functionality of each of these items (you probably have unfond memories of doing exactly that with a VCR once upon a time). The idea is absurd. Do you need to live in a world where knowing how to microwave popcorn makes you "cool"? I don't. I vote that when it comes to all technology, we make "dumb" the new "phat," "sick" or "stupid." Dumb is the new good.
The very real problem, however, for entrepreneurs and developers, is the need to capture the snob audience early in the cycle (if I hadn't sworn off of jargon I'd be using the term "early adopter" here, but I'm not gonna do that kind of thing anymore). Being "cool" can count disproportionately in the early stages.
So what does Qumana do after getting flamed by snobs commenting on Scobleizer? They patiently address all bloggers' concerns. They troll blogs for just such comments, and jump in. And they keep a blog of their own that is content-rich enough that it got me to write this very post. You can call it spin, or you can call it engagement. I think it's more the latter.
And now, just for fun, here's an ad from Qumana's network, AdGenta, which I'll write more about later:
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