Rebooting the News #55

In Podcast on June 14, 2010 by Jay Rosen

Our special guest is the developer of the Readability plug-in, Richard Ziade. He’s a partner in arc90, a strategic consulting and software development firm. Recently, his product was in the news because Apple’s Safari browser incorporated it, as Dave explained in a post at (It would be a good idea to read that post before listening.)

Dave and Jay talked to Rich about…

* how he got the idea for Readability and why he decided to make it free;

* what starting where the users start really means for a product like this;

* what he thinks about the criticism that his product strips the ads out and so upends the economics of publishing;

* the “emotional, passionate” reactions many users have had to the Readability product;

* what Apple may be up to by incorporating Readability into Safari 5;

* how we can have both the programming advantages of the iPad and iPhone (iOS, as Apple calls it) and the networked advantages of the open web;

* what a “high level programming environment” is (Jay’s question to Dave after he used that term.)

* how as software develops certain things get thrown out even though they were valuable and worked quite well

* the dangerous moment we’re in where we may lose the possibility that the best journalism will be available to the broadest possible public.

Here’s the show; we hope you like it.

7 Responses to “Rebooting the News #55”

  1. That “Reader” button has made me like my browser again.

  2. Great show — great last 5 mins. Wow 20x more readership on the web.

  3. Agreed … Great show, and one of the most thought provoking and well said episodes.

    Thought it was interesting, though, that Dave is such a readability fan and about empowering consumers, but he hated Google’s sidewiki project. Both essentially alter the formatting of a page outside of the site owner’s control. Would’ve love to hear more on where that line is/should be drawn from a dev’s perspective.

  4. […] developer of Readability, Richard Ziade, was interviewed recently on Rebooting the News, where he explained that developing the technology to correctly identify the featured content on a […]

  5. Hi Dave,

    Definitely an interesting show, straddling the Tech/News line that you cover so well (and where the rebooted news system is indeed forming!). But I also noticed the same thing as Michael M regarding Google’s Sidewiki and Apple’s (and RIchard Ziade’s) Reader: they both change the experience of a site in ways very different from the intent of, and at least naively out of the control of, the creator. One “subtracts” from the content and one “adds” to it, but I can certainly imagine users who would like one or the other (or both, at different times).

    It would be great to hear your comments on this, in text or on the next podcast!

  6. […] developer of Readability, Richard Ziade, was interviewed recently on Rebooting the News, where he explained that developing the technology to correctly identify the featured content on a […]

  7. Really good show. I think you delivered a very articulate crystallization of why people are intrigued by the iPad — the idea that could deliver a cleaner, better experience — and how that aspiration will be pursued in other — perhaps more open — ways: i.e., Readability.
    It seems like the implications of all of this for advertising are fairly severe. But ads on news sites always strike me as just worthless, if not outright annoying, anyway.
    Ads are going to have to change. I could see that happening in at least a couple of ways: one perhaps good, one not-so-good.
    Not so good: Advertisement becomes more insidious, more like product placement in movies and TV. The PR industry will figure ways to do this, I’m sure.
    Better: Advertisements are created that are appropriately targeted, and useful to readers. So instead of slapping a Chevy ad on every page, a news site might forgo ads on its front page, say, and deliver targeted ads on some sort of topic pages. So the ads would be closely tied to the content. I’m sure they could be targeted (Google-like) to the reader, too. But you just can’t risk annoying readers on the Web. But if the ads are useful … I might want to look at them. News sites have to figure out how to deliver useful ads.

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