I had written up a long rant about Microsoft's proposal to brand webfeeds with a new icon, and Dave Winer's asinine response to it. This is one case where Microsoft is actually Doing The Right Thing and asking for people's opinions. But Winer and his massive ego doesn't want anybody but him to make decisions.
Eventually I decided not to post it, because responding to Winer's never-ending obsessions is bordering on an obsession all its own.
But then Patrick stepped up and voiced some very good points, so I thought I would post my comments as well. Winer is Winer and won't change, but he has significant voice in the grand scheme of things, and that means he should not go unchallenged when he is wrong. What I love best about him is when he calls those who dare to disagree with his opinion "arrogant," which is the very definition of hypocrisy.
It also makes me laugh.
But he just picked up a couple million from the sale of "weblogs.com" so maybe he's entitled to be an ass?
Anyway, in case anybody cares, I object strongly to the use of "XML" as the "official badge" for webfeeds. XML is ambiguous as a label, even if it is technically correct. eXtensible Markup Language can be used for many, many things... not just webfeeds, and using it to title something so specific is pretty stupid. Not to mention the fact that it is consumer-hostile and is just going to confuse matters as more data enters XML-space. It would be like saying all varieties of fruit should be named "fruit" instead of specializing for distinction... apples, oranges, bananas, and the rest. It's just wrong.
I disagree with Microsoft on many things, but coming up with an icon to better identify webfeeds (and jettisoning the ambiguous "XML" badge once and for all) is okay by me. If they listen to the community of webfeed users and factor their input into their decision... I, for one, will be jumping on board. And since Microsoft actually has the muscle to get it adopted, I guess their monopoly is good for something.
I don't hate Dave Winer. I actually respect the work he has done to help people more easily assimilate data into their lives. He is now (and continues to be) an important force in the world of blogging and webfeeds. But I am sick of his god complex. I am tired of his constantly accusing people of attacking him simply because they disagree with his opinions. There are smart people out there who deserve to have a voice in the Way Things Work. Sometimes I wish Winer would just shut the f#@% up and let them speak. His opinion isn't the only one that matters, and nobody should have to be on the receiving end of a Winer bitch-slap for giving theirs.
UPDATE: I received a rather rude email telling me that there is nothing wrong with calling XML by the name "XML" and I am the one that should shut up.
Okay, I will shut up... if anybody can adequately explain how people are going to distinguish XML schemas when you aren't specific about their application. Here's an example... MS Word has it's own XML file format with a schema called "WordML". Saving in that format will give you a valid XML document. But you can't open such a document in a feed reader like FeedDemon or NetNewswire, nor can you parse it with an online feed service like NewsGator, Feedster or whatever. XML schemas are specific and, to end confusion, naming and branding conventions need to be specific as well.
Webfeeds are a genre of XML schema. There's RSS, RSS 2.0, Atom, and the rest. Since any webfeed reader worth its salt should be able to parse them all, they should be grouped under a single umbrella with an icon/branding that distinguishes them from other XML schemas. It shouldn't matter to the end-user whether a feed is RSS or Atom... people shouldn't have to care. We need something to end the confusion.
Dave Winer is pretty much demanding that everything be called one thing (RSS) and branded another (XML) which is crazy confusing. Atom is not RSS, and it is not going away. I personally believe Atom is the superior schema for webfeeds and don't want it to go away. But there is room for both, and I see nothing wrong with people having a choice of which schema to distribute... so long as the end-user doesn't have to be confused by it. Let's group the specifics (RSS, Atom), eliminate the obtuse (XML), and simplify the reference (webfeeds) with a new icon so we can continue moving forward. There are other worlds to explore.