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Posted on Tuesday, August 9th, 2005

Dave!Here's another boring entry on web site syndication. Forgive me. I actually wrote this earlier today and decided not to post it (choosing to show pictures of my new postage stamps instead). But then other people started jumping in, so I thought I might as well too. I've put it in an extended entry so that those of you who don't care about "RSS" and "Atom" and "XML" and "Web Site Syndication" can skip it.

If I were to write a smart-ass rebuttal to every crazy thing that Dave Winer says, it would probably be a daily event. I guess that's what happens when you have two highly opinionated people both thinking that they're smarter than everybody else on the planet.

Of course, I actually am smarter than everybody else on the planet, so I have the benefit of being right. It's a tough cross to bear, believe you me.

Today Winer is sniping away at Google and Microsoft for daring to goof on his holy RSS jihad. First Microsoft gets bitch-slapped for trying to put a consumer-friendly face on syndication, referring to it as "web feeds"...

"Like it or not Microsoft, the technology is called RSS. If you try to change that, for whatever reason, you will get routed around." —Dave Winer

Route around Microsoft? Errr... yeah, good luck with that.

What's so ironic about this is that Microsoft is actually a bigger "visual" supporter of the RSS name than Winer is. That's because Microsoft uses little "RSS" badges on their "Spaces" site, whereas Winer uses little "XML" badges on his. It was peculiarities like this which caused me to question what in the heck you're supposed to call the crap way back in January. If Winer doesn't call it "RSS" in his RSS badges, then why the f#@% should he be able to dictate that everybody else call it RSS? Perhaps there's some geeky tech-speak reason behind it all, but whatever.

The simple fact is that technologies are often renamed to make them more "friendly" to the masses. Sometimes by marketing geniuses... sometimes by consumers themselves. That's how things like a "gramophone" becomes a "phonograph" which becomes a "record player" which in turn becomes a "stereo" (which I'm guessing is actually "gramaphone 2.0"?). It doesn't change the underlaying technology, it's just a name. And when you get down to it, what does "RSS" say to the consumer? Heck, I don't even know what it stands for! Some places say "Really Simple Syndication" others say "Rich Site Summary." And yet, even if you happened to know that, does it really enlighten you as to what it can do for you? Uh... not so much. Now "web feeds," on the other hand, kind of gives me a visual picture that makes sense. A lot of people are already using the term "feed" anyway, and then we've got "feed burner" and "feed reader" taking hold... perhaps that's what people want to call it. Who is Microsoft to argue? (Bwahhh ha ha ha haaaaaaahhh! I kill me!!). The same argument applies to Atom, which says even less, in my opinion.

Oh, and for the record, I've decided to refer to OPML as "Poopy List" from now on. I think it's got real consumer appeal to it (OPML is another of Winer's Radio UserLand projects). Let's see if "Poopy List" catches on shall we? I'm sure it would give me the opportunity for another smart-ass rebuttal if it does. Besides, admit it, you are just dying for an excuse to use the word "poopy" in a technical context, aren't you? Of course you are!

Now where was I? Oh yeah, then he takes a pop at Google...

"Like it or not Google, the format is RSS 2.0. Look at how your position is eroding. Go all the way, and just give it up, and accept the gift, the way it was presented, without trying to edit, revise, fold, spindle or mutilate." —Dave Winer

I have no idea what Winer is going on about here, but I'm guessing it has something to do with Google offering Atom as a syndication choice (Atom being a direct competitor to his RSS format). Since I totally dumped support for RSS on my blog, and decided to back Atom 100%, you can probably guess where I sit with this one. He says "fold, spindle, mutilate" whereas I say "improve."

In the end, perhaps Microsoft, Google, and everybody else should just dump the entire RSS mess and go with Atom like I did. "Accept the gift," Dave? Sure. But, like any other gift, I reserve the right to exchange it for something better. This doesn't mean I don't appreciate the gesture, however.

Categories: Blogging 2005Click To It: Permalink


  1. SJ says:

    Dave, sometimes you remind me so much of Sugarat, it’s scary.

    I have long suspected you are a fellow sufferer of omniscientiasism (the pathological need to know more than everyone else in the universe), and now here is proof in virtual print. I KNEW IT!!! Welcome to Omniscientiasists United.

    Not that your ego needs the help :>) , but I never understood this whole RSS-vs.-Atom thing (or even what “web feed” really meant) till you put it in terms even a Mac user could understand. [light bulb over head] I get it!!!

    So in that one way ONLY, you are smarter than me.

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