Google killing Google Reader may be the best thing to have happened to the RSS ecosystem in a long time.
Looking at the efforts Dave Winer is undertaking in terms of getting OPML to become yet another standard, I’ve been thinking about how formats get adopted. The key insight I came up with is that standards are actually a form of social contract and increasingly, data formats is following the same path. Looking at the history In order to look forward, it always pays to look back. The dominant standards for the web today are undeniably HTML (or its variances like XHTML) and HTTP. More recently, XML has emerged and, increasingly, RSS is becoming the dominant type of XML for sharing a variety of data. How did each of those standards become a standard. It is obvious now (hindsight is always 20/20) that standards bodies have relatively little bearing when it comes to influencing the succes of a format. Take, for example, SGML, which was the dominant standardized format for document formatting. It was quickly superceded by HTML which, at the time, was not considered a standard. The same is true of RSS and other standards for syndication. Formats like ICE, CDF, and NewsML were touted as the future when they were first introduced. However, they’ve recently been superceded by…Read More
I keep trying to work on an entry to close the loop on the search engine and links research but RSS news is getting in the way. Last week, it was Microsoft’s welcome endorsement and a new set of extensions and this week, it’s Apple and its announcement of a new specification to add more data to RSS feeds used for podcasting. All this is nice but it seems that we’re seeing the beginning of a fairly new battle around RSS. Some History Before I go into details about Apple’s new offering, I want to give a little background that will clear up some of my confusions. I’ve been involved in the RSS community since 1999, way back when it was just the domain of geeks. Back in 2000, I made a few suggestions as to how RSS could be improved. At the same, the main version of RSS was version 0.91 and there was some interest in making a new version that would be called RSS 0.92 (yes, it was the alpha days of RSS). So five years ago, I was pushing for crazy concepts like adding a date to an item or finding ways to attach sound files…Read More
There’s an old rule in journalism that trends can be spotted when you hear/see the same item happening three times in a row over a short period. If that’s the case, the trifecta yesterday was: Yahoo! announcing native support for RSS and ATOM in the “my yahoo” page Bloglines announcing a new set of services to ease the load of distribution Newsgator announcing new partnerships to drive adoption Let’s review why those announcements herald the arrival of RSS into the mainstream. Yahoo! and RSS As Jeremy Zawodny said, it does something […]–something that Yahoo is in a unique position to do: bring RSS to the masses. Why is this significant? Well, quite simply, while geeks like myself and readers of this blog know, RSS is still something for early adopters. Every time a large player gets into that field, the concept gains a little more traction. With the arrival of RSS into the Yahoo! personal page, the format becomes a major new delivery channel for content creators. With this, TNL.net can now figures prominently next to Reuters feed, being given the same kind of weight. It represents a major shift in the way Yahoo! distributes content. In the late 1990s,…Read More
The New York Times has an interesting article over a fight about how to best clean Michelangelo’s David. It’s an interesting study of how technology sometimes clashes with more traditionalist approaches. In our rush to use technology for everything, it is interesting to stop and ponder whether it is the right tool for the job. Often, geeks like myself tend to jump on technology for technology’s sake. An example of this is the recent hubbub over (n)echo, which has left many people wondering whether RSS is broken. The truth is that it isn’t and that whatever new format comes up will live nicely in parallel to RSS for years to come. When estimating technology, one should ask himself/herself whether it is the right tool for the job. I could write a calculator program to calculate the sum of one and one but that does not mean that I should (especially on such a small thing). So why is it that we get so blinded by technology? Why is it that the old axiom “to someone with a hammer, everything looks like a nail” holds true so often when it comes to technology projects? Part of it is what I would…Read More
The latest in weblogland is the discussions surrounding Echo, a new format for weblogs. While the idea initially sounds good (“hey, a new format… that shows progress”), I’m not sure of the general direction. There are a number of question surrounding the effort. While the weblog world is generally very insular (thinking of blogs as a different beast from the rest of the web), the concepts surrounding a weblog are nothing new in terms of publishing. Basically, a blog is a tool that allows to publish content easily and presents it in a particular fashion (generally as a set of entries presented in reverse chronological order). echo: the new RSS? Part of the success of weblogs stems from the fact that they are generally offering syndication capabilities using one of the many flavors of RSS, a format first developed by Netscape, and then extended by Dave Winer. In 2000, a rift in the RSS community created two divergent standards, RSS 1.0 and RSS 2.0. RSS 1.0 was developed as a lightweight multipurpose extensible metadata description and syndication format. It sounds suspiciously like what the echo crowd is trying to do and makes the name almost prescient (as in “is echo…Read More