Some companies pretend to be open. Introducing the concept of Fauxpenness, a definition, and some examples from current companies.
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 It was quickly superceded by HTML which, at the time, was not considered a standard.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 However, they’ve recently been superceded by…Read More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
Although I haven’t written about them, I’ve been quietly monitoring the podcast space. I am amazed by how quickly they’ve taken hold and today’s announcement by Infinity Broadcasting that they were launching KYOU Radio, a radio that’s distributing podcasts seems to be the tipping point for that new technology. For my readers who are not familiar with the concept, a podcast is essentially an audio file that is distributed via a syndication feed like RSS. Mosts podcasts are encoded in MP3 format and, for the most part, podcasts have been the equivalent of audio blogs. The initial concept behind them came in a dinner at Katz’s deli in New York (fall of 2000) when Adam Curry and I urged Dave Winer, who was then the only person keeping RSS on life support, to provide a way with RSS to distribute data other than text. Adam had written an article talking about the last yard issue in terms of delivering content in the home (realize this is before BitTorrent was popular.) From there, Dave added the enclosure item to the format and things were quiet for a long time. Last summer, Adam introduced iPodder, a program that simplified the creation of…Read More
Big news in the RSS world as Dave Winer announces that he is leaving the RSS Advisory Board. I’d like to take this opportunity to thank him for all his hard work on this format. Back in the late 90s, when RSS was about to die a quick death after Netscape abandoned it, it was Dave that cured it back to health, realizing its potential and working hard to turn it into something that would be more significant than just presenting items on the Netscape personal page. Dave has been a controversial figure in the RSS world but without his contribution, RSS would not be what it is today. Other efforts in the syndication space have withered and died but Dave continued being the “defender of the RSS faith” and ensured that it continued evolving. Last year, in an attempt to make his own personality a non-issue in the future of RSS, he created the RSS advisory board and put RSS under a creative commons license. Like him or not, you can’t deny that Dave has been the biggest contributor to the RSS world to date. Congrats Dave on moving on and here’s to hoping that you’ll continue being involved.Read More
Congratulations to Dave Winer for realizing that his personality had become a polarizing force in the RSS discussions and for basically giving RSS 2.0 to the community. There is really nothing I can say that really expresses how amazing I find this move. By putting the specification under an Attribution/Share Alike Creative Commons license, Dave has essentially manage to make the rights on this specification very clear. This should put an end to any discussion related to how much control Userland exerts on the specification. The creation of an advisory board is also a move in the right direction. If there is one thing I would recommend, however, it is the election of two extra members that would be voted on by the community. This might be to consider in the future but my congratulations go to all members of the current advisory board. It is a tough job but one that I’m sure you will all do well. Once again, Dave, thanks for this great gift to the community. This, to me, has to be the most important announcement in the syndication space in several years and will ensure that the specification will move forward, hopefully putting behind us…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