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Letter from Brad Feld

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  • rcade
    I m away from my e-mail this weekend, but according to a comment posted by Brad Feld on Scripting News, he recently sent me this e-mail:
    Message 1 of 3 , Feb 26, 2006
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      I'm away from my e-mail this weekend, but according to a comment
      posted by Brad Feld on Scripting News, he recently sent me this e-mail:

      http://scripting.wordpress.com/2006/02/25/about-the-back-channel/#comment-1814

      Text of the e-mail:

      Rogers - we've never met so I'm being presumptuous in writing you.
      Hopefully you'll take my comments as constructive, which is the manner
      in which I'm offering them. I've copied Dave Winer on this as he's the
      person that has raised the issue that I'd like to address. The
      construct of RSS (and feeds / syndication in general) is important to
      me as I've made a number of investments in companies working on things
      in this area, including Technorati, NewsGator, and FeedBurner. I view
      RSS and other syndication technology as fundamental protocols -
      similar to the relationship between SMTP and email. Time will tell
      whether this is right or wrong, but I've had a lot of success helping
      create a number of email-related companies (while staying relatively
      distant from the evolution of SMTP) and am now working on creating a
      number of syndication-related companies.

      I found out about the RSS Advisory Board relatively recently (via a
      search feed on one of the companies I'm involved in that linked to one
      of the posts.) I took at look at things, realized that Dave Sifry,
      Greg Reinacker, and Eric Lunt were on it, read through some of the
      stuff on the site, and figured "hmmm - that sounds useful." I then
      went on to the next thing.

      Last week, I was alerted to some of the conflict that was developing
      around the board. I started watching the posts on the public list and
      saw the discussion begin to devolve. I checked in with the companies I
      work with to find out the history (I'm peacefully naive about a lot of
      the history and evolution of the RSS) of the RSS Advisory Board as
      they knew it. The general response was "it sounded like a good thing -
      when asked to join I agreed in order to help out in any way with the
      broader community.)

      Dave Winer (who I also do not know very well) contacted me directly
      and filled me in on his perspective on the history, as well as the
      current dynamics. I then spent some time looking into the history to
      try to be better informed. Granted, I really only looked at what was
      public available, but thanks to Google, Yahoo, and a lot of the
      persistent storage on the web, I was able to quickly find more than I
      cared to look at.

      The other day, I saw Dave's post -
      http://www.scripting.com/2006/02/23.html#anOpenNoteToRogersCadenhead.
      In it he suggested something straightforward that - if taken at face
      value - seems to address the core of the issue. Specifically, Dave
      stated "Change the name and charter of the group you've started.
      Decide whether you're working on a profile or a new format. You can't
      do what you're doing and call it RSS …" I sent Dave a note and asked
      him if a name change "away from RSS" solved the issue that he had and
      he confirmed that it would.

      So - I'd like to suggest that you change the name of the RSS Advisory
      Board to something that eliminates the controversy. Why not call it
      something like the "Syndication Protocol Working Group." At the same
      time, work with Dave to clarify the charter so it's consistent with
      what has historically been done. By doing something like this, you can
      presumably eliminate the politics, move past whatever history (good
      and bad) exists, and spend 100% of your time on constructive activity.

      I apologize in advance for being prescriptive without having
      previously spent time with you or gotten to know you in any way. My
      colleagues have lots of respect for you and what you are trying to
      generally accomplish. However, no one - presumably you included - has
      time or energy to spend on non-productive activity, especially when
      there is so much great stuff going on around this technology.

      I'm available to talk anytime (although I've already spent much more
      time on this specific issue than I care to.)
    • rcade
      Here s my response, which I also e-mailed to Brad Feld: From my perspective, the purpose of the RSS Advisory Board is always open to reconsideration. This is a
      Message 2 of 3 , Feb 26, 2006
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        Here's my response, which I also e-mailed to Brad Feld:

        From my perspective, the purpose of the RSS Advisory Board is always
        open to reconsideration. This is a three-year-old organization that
        has been operating in public for one month. We've just begun hearing
        from RSS developers, publishers and executives in significant number.

        I think the best way forward for the board is to keep doing exactly
        what the organization did under Dave Winer's leadership -- support
        developers, publish supplementary documentation, and clarify the RSS
        specification without changing the format.

        Other members may decide to support his current position, which if I
        understand it correctly, calls for the existing RSS specification
        never to be edited again.

        Changing the focus of the board from RSS to syndication might ease
        some contentious debate in the RSS community, but it wouldn't address
        long-standing questions for developers implementing the current
        specification.

        There are significant aspects of RSS that lack clarity in the
        specification. How many podcasts can an item contain? What RSS
        elements can carry HTML? How does an RSS aggregator turn relative URLs
        into full URLs?

        The proposed specification currently under draft at the RSS board's
        site is an effort to resolve questions like these, not change the
        format or create a new format that would raise the implementation cost
        of syndication for everyone.

        If the spec reaches a vote at some future date and is rejected by the
        board -- or the board votes at any time to cease work on it -- I'd
        remove the spec from publication and pursue a "best practices"
        document or another method to address the situation.
      • Randy Morin
        I don t think changing our name (as Brad suggests) will change anything, but we do have to change something to get the RSS community back on our side. I think
        Message 3 of 3 , Feb 26, 2006
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          I don't think changing our name (as Brad suggests) will change
          anything, but we do have to change something to get the RSS community
          back on our side. I think that change is obvious.

          All that we have to do is stop talking about changing the RSS
          specification. At first, I thought clarifying the spec was a good
          idea, but then it became obvious that Dave was right, opening that can
          of worms only invites other more destructive changes.

          Rather, let's work on writing supplementary documentation, which
          thanks to Ross and Rogers, is in high gear. Second let's create a
          place where users can ask questions and get answers, rather than
          debate the same issues for the 100th time.
          My 1 1/2 cents,

          Randy

          --- In rss-board@yahoogroups.com, "rcade" <rcade@...> wrote:
          >
          > Here's my response, which I also e-mailed to Brad Feld:
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