Technology Weblogging

We interrupt this commercial break with a word about RSS

Recovered from the Wayback Machine.

It had all the makings of a true Real Life Drama:

In an effort to defuse what could only be termed mutiny in the ranks, otherwise known as the ‘Atom Effect’, Dave Winer turns the copyright of the RSS 2.0 specification over to Harvard, attaching a Creative Commons License reflecting something about share and share alike. The nobility of the act stuns people–well other than those who questioned how much of the specification he was entitled to claim as his copyright. Oh, and those people who kept insisting that Creative Commons licenses were not designed to cover something such as software or specifications.

Accepting the accolades as only what he was due, the Big Dog then anoints a committee of three to watch over our sleeping beauty, the little syndication feed that was. But these caretakers take little care and run for the hills–whether of gold or sanity, only they can say. Poor little feed lies there, alone and vulnerable, while its bastard cousin, Atom, is fed care and attention and grows up to be a big, strapping specification that can bite through ambiguity and confusion, like Jaws bit through surfer girls.

It is then, when our precious little orangy bundle of joy is at its most aloneness that even Bigger Dogs enter the picture: Apple and Microsoft, seeing the light (or, more likely, seeing a potential new profit stream) embrace RSS and in the process, fracture, bruise, and even somewhat maim it. “The problem is,” the masses cry out, “the specification is too open, too ill-defined.”

Enter now, a new hero: Rogers Cadenhead. Stalwart defender of Popish dignity and bearer of thick, wavy, locks of silver. Big Dog taps Rogers on the shoulder with his sword and says to him, “You shall be my defender, the RSS Champion”.

–curtain closes for intermission, while scenery is changed–

Now enters the story a host of new players: 8 new keepers of the RSS flame to support our champion. Their task? They come not to destroy RSS 2.0 but to praise it. They seek to clear the confusion, to cut away the darkness that surrounds this neurotic little bundle of joy. Where before there were endless questions of interpretation, and breaking tools right and left, the Nine Champions of the Rin…urh, sorry, wrong movie, scratch that….the Nine Champions of the Specification will make it all better!

(Loosely translated for the prop department: They come to change little RSS 2.0’s diaper, because it had done a doo-doo and now stinks to high heaven. )

But hark? What’s this? What’s this rumble in the distance. Oh, no! It’s Big Dog, and he’s got his lawyer!

But the Lawyer brings no books or suits or habius or even corpses. He opens the door long enough to make statement and then moves on to other things that come ten by ten. The statement? Nothing has changed on RSS 2.0. Harvard still owns it, but the community may do what they will within the bounds of a Creative Commons license. Leading to, (now pay attention, this is going to go fast)…

A community, which now it seems, must absorb the Nine Champions of RSS 2.0, because they have been banished from the round table that was the RSS Advisory Board. A Board that is no more, created by a man who resigned from it, and who gave up any intellectual ownership of the specification, but still retains ownership of the specification, to wit, making decisions about who is or is not on a board that no longer exists for a technical specification given intellectual property rights by a University that had little or no involvement with the specification, under a license that has little or no applicability to specifications, mainly created for songsters and photogs and other artsy types AND which has little or no legal standing within the rules of the land because there are no rules of the land when great bodies of water separate most of it.

Have no fear, though, as our hero, the RSS Champion can see his way clear through this confounding maze. I will not waiver he cries. “While my heart beats and I draw breath, I will not be swayed from my sacred duty. Nay! Though you may torture me with unclosed tags and malformed dates, I will hold true to my task. To the end. To the bitter end!” His dedication shines so brightly, members of the advisory board are heard to murmur “What?”

His passion even moves former foes–those who had vowed to pull RSS 2.0 from its throne and install one of their own choosing (see reference re above: Atom, Effort of). They are so moved, they pull their validators from their leather sheaths and hold them high in support and salute, crying out, Hey, cool.

All are not in one accord, though, for Big Dog is angered, mightily angered. Why? To know this is to know one of the universe’s least interesting facts. All we need know is that Big Dog is angered at the Champion and the Nine defenders of RSS 2.0, and so he sends out of the darksome mists an imp to torment both our hero and his new allies.

See? You can’t make this stuff up. And a few years ago, the battles between these opposing forces would have received much attention and the thundering of the post and counter-post would have shaken even the political webloggers who might–might–take time out from verbally eviscerating each other to take notice.

But there was a party put on by a player, to celebrate a book authored by other players, with words about how to become players, sponsored by other groups hoping to become players, drinking wine pushed by a hopeful, attended by 500 or so close friends, each with a startup, a product, an agenda or, at minimum, a weblog.

And no one cared about old enemies and ancient battles, the hard work of our hero and his allies, other daring do and RSS 2.

The end.


Harvard Support?

Recovered from the Wayback Machine.

Dave Winer uses his Harvard weblog, and we assume the clout and prestige of his Harvard position, to push the weblogging industry into backing his versions of both RSS and a Weblogging MetaAPI.

There’s already been discussion about Winer taking on ‘co-creator’ claims with RSS — something I and others dispute. Now, he is doing the same types of power manipulation with the MetaWeblog API:

The same philosophy dictates an end to the disagreement over RSS. If they want respect for the formats and protocols they implement, they must do RSS exactly as UserLand does. The thing that Blogger and MT currently call RSS is not only not what UserLand does but it isn’t even an improvement over what UserLand does. Lose-lose.

Sure, other people encourage this nasty thing, but that doesn’t make it right. I’ve written to all the parties privately on this. It’s important, if the blogging API world is to come together in a rational way, we must have basic aggreement on RSS. It’s time to settle this argument now. This is the nasty stuff the big companies do. Let’s get over it and get some principles in place now.

About APIs, I request others support the MetaWeblog API without reservation. If you want me reorganize and move the docs to a neutral place and put an IETF-like disclaimer on it, I’m happy to do so. Maybe this is something Harvard could help with. I ain’t going with MIT, they’re the competition.

Smiley faces aside, these closed door discussions by private phone between “The Big Three” of weblogging, the re-writing of history about the tools, the use of a respected institution to add credibility for what is a dispute based on personality differences — Congratulations, weblogging: you’ve just become a true American industry.

Ford, Chrysler, and GM would be proud.

What’s next — a Userland RDF?

RDF Specs Technology

RSS: The neverending story

Recovered from the Wayback Machine.

Hi, Evil Twin here!

I’m not sure why, but the very mention of RSS tends to bring me out of my quiet corner, where I sit filing my nails while Burningbird does her thing. So, while she’s off cleaning house and trying to get the next episode of that RDF Poetry Finder finished, I thought I would just sneak in here, and add a new post. Just for fun.

There’s been considerable discussion about RSS for Weblogs, and RSS profiles, and XHTML in RSS and RSS and FOAF, and so on lately. In fact, if RSS were chum, you could walk on water, there are so many sharks circling about. Sam’s is a good place to track most of the discussion, so start here, then here and here.

Much good input, lots of great ideas from smart people. However, it struck me as I leisurely meandered through all of the juicier bon mots, that what the discussion needed was a little perspective.

I got to thinking about the possible impacts that could occur if the same level of energy applied to the discussions of RSS were applied to other areas of human interest such as science and the humanities. Based on this, I came up with the following, my list of things we’d be doing now, if only RSS energy was universal.


1. Next vacation I’d just hang about in the next neighborhood. Andromeda.

2. We would have a cure for the common cold. Unfortunately, 1 out of 20 people who take the cure die.

3. Men will finally understand why they’re from Mars and women are from Venus.

4. We’ll be using cold fusion devices to chill our cans of beer.

5. We find Schrödinger’s Cat. His name is Bob.

6. The next blogging get together will have 200,000 people attending, all teleporting in. The remaining 300,000 will just pick up the details from their minds.

7. Virtual sex would no longer be so virtual. No, I’m not giving details.

8. Our SUVs get 1000 miles to a gallon of gas.

9. New techniques can compress 1000 gallons of gas into one, which will cost about $2,345.56 at the station.

10. Lie-detecting glasses will enable voters to see when politicians are lying.

11. New political laws will be created to allow governments to exist without politicians.

12. Computers will be smaller than a speck of dust, and hard wired directly into our brains. We think, we blog.

13. Weblogging tools will incorporate a new feature called the “Oh Shit! I didn’t want to print that” quick erase.

14. Someone invents a penis stretcher that really works, and a pill that melts fat. Not long after, Vogue begins to feature plump, voluptuous women as the new sex symbol, and men start wearing dresses. Loose dresses.

-and finally-

15. Time travel exists. I have seen the future. I know how RSS ends. I’m not telling.