The Importance of Pull versus Push: Why the Metaweb is better

Microcontent technologies such as Weblogs and RSS, and indeed the HTTP Web itself, are pull-based. Users poll for information when and if they want it, from sources they choose, with total privacy. I don’t have to give you my address to pull microcontent from your node. Contrast this with e-mail and other “push” technologies and you can see the benefit. A “push” technology puts the control in the hands of the publisher — it gives the publisher the right to cause information to appear on information consumer desktops. The essence of push is that publishers get the addresses of subscribers. On the other hand, with pull, subscribers have the power — it shifts the power balance back to the demand-side, the end-user information consumers. In pull, the consumer has the address of the publisher. Thus the consumer maintains both their privacy (the publisher doesn’t know who they are, doesn’t know their interests, doesn’t have their address and cannot share their address) and control over the content they consume (the publisher doesn’t have the right to force them to receive and view content). Ultimately this is why RSS is so powerful and will probably supplant e-mail as the primary channel for syndicating information on the network and within enterprises.

2 thoughts on “The Importance of Pull versus Push: Why the Metaweb is better”

  1. A distinction needs to be made between push and subscribe. A push model need not be subscription based and in this case you are right, it does put the power in the hands of the publisher. But a subscription model allows the user to notify the publisher that he/she wishes to receive the latest updates. An RSS example, clouds:

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