Regardless of Readability’s various flaws, Arc 90 has contributed something measurably new to the debate concerning content monetization. Perhaps the experiment failed, broached copyright, and any number of other touchy buzz-words, but the service unquestionably furthered the discussion.
Absolutely; I agree wholeheartedly. The ambition and aim of Readability should be applauded — they were trying to advance the state of writing and reading on the Web. At its start, Readability’s subscription and payment model had an air of excitement and innovation to it. Alas, questions about their intentions and their business model were often met with either finger pointing, skirting, or silence.
On episode 71 of The Big Web Show, Jeffrey Zeldman and Rich Ziade describe Readability as an “amoral R&D company”. Implying that they should just do what they’ll do in the hopes to build something that is both game changing and sustainable, and therefore they are not responsible for any damage which might be incurred at their hands (such as the inability to channel subscriber funds to publishers, or the repurposing and redistribution of other people’s original content).
For a company that says they are advocates for writing and reading on the web, it is their attitude that saddens me and makes me uncomfortable with their products.