Who owns subscription data?

As Bloglines continues to grow, its subscription data becomes more interesting. Yesterday, while demonstrating the application to some folks, I showed how you can navigate from a feed to the list of subscribers to that feed. Only those subscribers who agree to make their data public are shown. So in my case, for example, there are only 755 public subscribers out of 2337 total subscribers. But that's more than enough transparency to do some useful data mining.

Here, for example, are the 20 most popular feeds read by a sample of 100 of my subscribers:

Joel on Software 62
Boing Boing 60
Slashdot: 56
Wired News 53
Google Weblog 53
Gizmodo 48
dive into mark 43
The Register 42
A List Apart: for people who make websites 40
Jeremy Zawodny's blog 40
Scobleizer: Microsoft Geek Blogger 39
Dilbert 38
ongoing 38
kuro5hin.org 37
Dan Gillmor's eJournal 36
Ars Technica 36
Techdirt 34
Lessig Blog 34
Scripting News 33
Joi Ito's Web 32

And here are the 20 most popular feeds read by a sample of 100 subscribers to the InfoWorld Top News feed:

Wired News 72
Slashdot: 71
CNET News.com 62
The Register 61
Boing Boing 59
kuro5hin.org 52
Gizmodo 51
Google Weblog 50
Joel on Software 49
The New York Times > Technology 45
Techdirt 43
Dilbert 43
Scripting News 43
Scobleizer: Microsoft Geek Blogger 42
Ars Technica 39
Quotes of the Day 37
eWEEK Technology News 37
Jon's Radio 36
The New York Times > Home Page 36
Dan Gillmor's eJournal 35

When a service centralizes and publishes subscription data, as Bloglines does, it's easier to harvest and report on that data. But you can also do a similar analysis without relying on any single authority, as I showed a couple of years ago. That suggests to me that publishing models based on owning subscription will face an interesting dilemma. What happens when the data is inherently decentralized, and when users freely share it?

Former URL: http://weblog.infoworld.com/udell/2004/10/22.html#a1100