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July 19, 2003

RSS goings on

As I've written about elsewhere, one reasons it's fun to hang out in the weblog world is that weblogs let your speech flow quickly and easily through the 'net. The lube, as it were, is a data format called RSS. The copyright for that standard was recently transferred from UserLand Software to Harvard's Berkman Center for Internet and Society.

There has been much discussion. Technorati can find it for you if you're interested.

I've been too busy to read all the comments, but one thing that baffles me are the folks who moan about too much control being in the hands of LittleCo's like UserLand. They seem to be missing the big news that the IBM, Google and AOL are beginning to invest. Maybe these companies will do well by the weblog community. I hope so.

But remember that it's the devil you know vs. the devil you don't know. The newcomers are big enough to hire people whose full time job is to argue with you until you run out of energy to fight. And to hire still more people whose full time job is to make the protocols so complicated that only other BigCo's can afford to support them.

Wake up, people. This isn't about whom in our little community you're rooting for. In some ways I'm not even sure it's about the technical merits. It may be simply that IBM had some extra money floating around to experiment with.

Update (23 July): I've gotten several comments after Dave linked to my post from his site. If you haven't been following my blog you might think I'm against "the evil BigCo's". I'm not. Big companies do great things all the time. The post that follows this one gives an example.

So what's my point, then? It's this. Be careful. Understand the costs and benefits of what you undertake. Strive for situational awareness in addition to thinking about the purely technical issues.

Speaking of which, if you know of a page in http://intertwingly.net/wiki/pie/FrontPage that discloses who is supporting its existence, i.e. companies that fund the hosting or dedicate employee time to the development of the spec, please add it to the comments section and I will hyperlink to it here.

Posted by Andrew Grumet at July 19, 2003 01:53 PM | TrackBack | Cosmos


Weren't around when the only "BigCo" was UserLand, were you?

Posted by: Ken MacLeod at July 23, 2003 01:27 AM

More FUD from the unenlightened.

The lube is not the format; the lube is the concept of syndication: machine-readable metadata broken down by article, not page. Before RSS came along there was CDF and scriptingNews format; after RSS dies there will be other formats.

RSS is not magic. Syndication is magic.

Posted by: Mark at July 23, 2003 01:32 AM

The whole stuff about the evil BigCo's is not even worth commenting on. It just pegs you as a Winer fanboy. Wake up! Think for yourself! The world is more complicated than Dave would have you believe.

Posted by: Mark at July 23, 2003 01:34 AM

You bet I'm a Dave Winer fan. I'm a fan of lots of people. In fact, some times I'm even a Mark Pilgrim fan. Thank you (really) for http://www.diveintopython.org/ !

My comments are based on personal experience and also watching the market. Thank you (not really) for the accusation of blind unthinking allegiance.

BTW, you need to read and think before you post. I didn't say that BigCo's *would* act this way. I said they *can*, which is plainly true.

Posted by: Andrew Grumet at July 23, 2003 08:17 AM

Also BTW, I know the world is complicated. BigCo's do great things all the time. Example: http://grumet.net/weblog/archives/000135.html

Posted by: Andrew Grumet at July 23, 2003 08:39 AM

Andrew, with all due respect, maybe you need to reread your post and comment.

Yes, you did write "can" and not "would". Now, put it in context.

In your post you wrote:

(1) "argue... until you run out of... fight"

(2) "the devil you know... the devil you don't know"

(3) "IBM had some extra money..."

And you did NOT write:

(1) "BigCo's do great things all the time"

Now, many - including myself - can see where you stand in general on the BigCo.

(Notice how I politely criticized you by holding you to your words. Notice how those words are there for all to see - without the benefit of editing THE CONTENT. Notice how I am able to accomplish this by writing a comment directly against the post. Funny, I can't seem to do these in certain high-profile weblogs.)

Posted by: DD at July 23, 2003 08:49 AM

DD - fair enough. I would claim that the "devil you know" comment is neutral, actually. But just the same I'll update the post (clearly marking the update as such) with my comment about "doing great things".

Posted by: Andrew Grumet at July 23, 2003 08:59 AM

There isn't a page in the Wiki, but on the blog (at the same domain), Sam has been very open that he works for IBM and that his boss has given him the OK to work on the syndication stuff full-time.

Since www.intertwingly.net has been around (and hosted on the same server, AFAICT) long before the movement towards a new XML vocabulary for syndication, I suspect Sam is still paying for his own hosting. Didn't I read somewhere that Mark P. and Sam R. were hosted on the same server? Yep... Just checked their IPs and they are.

Of course, that doesn't tell us who is paying Sam's bills, but whois reports that Sam still owns intertwingly.net.

Oh, and there is a Wiki on intertwingly.net supporting the SSF project, too -- an effort to produce a clear spec for RSS. So, if this is all a "BigCo" effort, there're hedging their bets.

But, I suspect that, except for the portion of his time that IBM pays for, this is a personal effort by Sam -- something that he is personally interested in.

Posted by: Mark A. Hershberger at July 23, 2003 10:54 AM

Ya know, I never hear any complaining when "BigCos" throw their support behind RSS. AOL Journals use RSS 2.0. CNET. Slashdot (owned by OSDN). Somehow, it's only when companies try to support *other* standards that Dave gets all hot and bothered.

Posted by: Mark at July 23, 2003 11:41 AM

Mark, actually I'm cool and collected, not hot and bothered.

Posted by: Dave Winer at July 23, 2003 01:55 PM

Yeah, you know what, I'm not even mad at you Mark. You're a smart guy, and I'm sure you mean well, even though you're obsessed with some weird ideas about me (weird and wrong.)

Posted by: Dave Winer at July 23, 2003 07:57 PM

It's not about XML, RSS or syndication really. It's about communicating, plain and simple.

People who write blogs should just write them - let the technologists figure out how to pick them up.

Posted by: kafooey at July 24, 2003 06:30 PM
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