Riff raff

Well, Riffs, the new review-anything site, does one thing right that Amazon should have done from the first: You go to Riffs and write a review and it lets you get an RSS feed, which you can put on your own blog.

Still, I agree with Mike Arrington: “Do we need Riffs when everyone seems very happy writing reviews directly on their blogs?”

Fred Wilson tries out Riffs. But he has long pointed out that Gotham Gal has all kinds of reviews already on her blog. The question is: How do I find what she’s writing and find what other people are writing about the same topic so I can compare? How can I look for new restaurants in New York and find the ones she has found?

The service I’ll pay attention to is the one that lets me find the riffs and reviews (and recipes and whatever else) that people put on their own blogs. That can be a search engine or an aggregator or both that gets people to swarm around tags so they know their stuff will be found. It works inside Flickr and Del.icio.us. It can work outside, in the distributed web.

If I were a VC, I’d be investing in a company that tries to use tags and microformats and social interaction to link together the topics and opinions and information people care about on that distributed web. For that’s the company that won’t waste effort and expense trying to get people to change their behavior and reverse the natural flow of the web out to the edges — ‘come to us and give us your good stuff’ — but instead takes advantage of the essence of the web and leaves control out at those edges by saying: ‘We know you have good stuff and we’re going to help people find it.’ The consumer proposition is then clear: This is how you find the good stuff. This will be the real successor to and competitor against Google. Oh, Google could do it, too, but judging by Base, they’re not doing that. They’re taking control rather than giving it.

Remember Jarvis’ First Law: Give people control and we will use it.

: Fred Wilson and I get into a discussion starting in the comments below and continuing on his blog here.

: And Michael Arrington retorts.