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Re: Merge threads - who, what, why

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  • Shelley Powers
    ... general ... types ... are a bit ... definition for ... aggragation about ... mentioned ... dictionaries ... after the ... events etc ... Danny, now we re
    Message 1 of 36 , Sep 23, 2002
      --- In rss-dev@y..., "Danny Ayers" <danny666@v...> wrote:
      > >Sorry, I know this is out of protocol to respond at the top of the
      > >message, but Danny, none of your use cases fits the current
      > >definition of syndication/aggregation as it is understood in
      > >use or by the clients. You're talking events, feeds for travelers,
      > >amd a dictionary system and so on. Why does the
      > >syndication/aggregation folks feel justified in handling these
      > >of businesses? Are these not out of scope?
      > Protocols & definitions can be changed to suit the circumstances ;-)
      > Perhaps the definitions of the terms syndication and aggragation
      are a bit
      > to close to "what can be done with RSS 0.9x". If you use that
      definition for
      > your scope, then of course you won't need any more than RSS 0.9x.
      > Syndication (as I understand it) is about publishing, and
      aggragation about
      > collection/processing of 'news-like' information. All the cases I
      > had an aspect of this. The fact that events, travellers and
      > were also involved is to my mind irrelevant. The core can look
      after the
      > syndication vocabulary, the modules (other vocabs) can handle the
      events etc
      > etc.

      Danny, now we're starting to get somewhere. Perhaps it's not just the
      RSS name that needs to be abandoned -- perhaps
      the "syndication/aggregation" also needs to be abandoned for
      something a little more closely associated with what you all seem to
      be discussing here. Perhaps we're not really looking at
      syndication/aggregation as is generally defined within the using
      communities (i.e. new web content), but something else.

      Something a little more general than RSS, but less generic
      than 'grouping of like things'. And something with a little more
      discipline perhaps than "well, we'll just throw another module at

      Get too generic, then in some ways, your specification competes
      directly with RDF.

    • Jon Hanna
      Unfortunately illness kept me away from my machine for a few days, and is currently reducing my desire to correspond quite drastically. It is also likely to
      Message 36 of 36 , Sep 25, 2002
        Unfortunately illness kept me away from my machine for a few days, and is
        currently reducing my desire to correspond quite drastically. It is also
        likely to make my normally rambling style even worse.

        However Shelley's main question about the "business" of RSS is important and
        I'd like to have my 2c.

        It seems to me that there are three ways to define the purpose of a
        technology. One I will label "designed", one "adaptive", and the other

        The designed way is to have a purpose decided by necessity or inspiration
        from which you design the technology. The technology then apparently springs
        from the forehead of the individual or group who create it fully-formed,
        since it is generally only after much work that the public is made aware of

        The adaptive way is to define a purpose by examining the uses to which it's
        predecessors are used.

        The reductive is similar to the adaptive, but more forcibly redefines the
        purpose by producing a technology that can no longer be used for some of the
        tasks it's predecessors were put to.

        The parthenogenesis of the designed way tends to produce "purer"
        technologies with limited application, the adaptive way tends to produce
        messy technologies with a wide range of applications, many of which it does
        not match very well. As annoying as the inelegance may often be the latter
        type tend to be the most useful. The reductive method tends to result in
        something between those two.

        Many technologies start with a designed version 1.0 (or 0.x when the
        author(s) choose to acknowledge that they don't consider it finished) and
        are then used for purposes outside of their initial use-case which feed into
        an adaptive definition of the purposes of later versions. To elide
        historical detail for the sake of brevity the Internet's designed goal is to
        be a military and academic communication network that can survive total
        destruction of many of it's nodes and the Web's designed goal is to provide
        a simple way to write up scientific papers which would include references to
        other such papers, hypertext being used to make those references more
        useful. The Internet and the Web both have current uses quite different to
        those, and many of their parts are used in manners further removed from
        their origins (e.g. the use of HTML in many Windows technologies doesn't
        even make use of the Web's distributed nature).

        I maintain that RSS is such a technology. It's designed purpose is the
        syndication of "news" items from individual websites to a portal website, to
        be more specific to the MyNetscape portal website. It was *not* designed to
        be of any particular use to bloggers, aggregators, or metadata providers,
        but it *does* serve them and others.

        Which makes answering Shelley's question a bit tricky. Casting the net wide
        there are real-world use cases now which include some cases quite close to
        the original intent, but also some that are quite disparate (e.g. using
        RSS - either in accordance with the spec, or else as a mere provider of
        vocabulary - to provide a table-of-contents to a collection of RDF documents
        describing a site or other system). As such the best answer I can think of
        for the purpose of RSS is:

        "To provide information about web resources that change often enough to make
        such information worth giving".

        Which is a thoroughly unsatisfactory answer really, but not a useless one,
        for it still has implications in our decisions if we intend RSS+ to remain
        useful to all or most of its current users.

        In particular it means that dropping features, including features that are
        by-products of design rather than deliberately built into the format, should
        only be done with extreme caution. With such a wide range of use-cases any
        feature could prove vital to someone. This includes RDF, inherent (as
        opposed to spec-defined) ordering, the ability to work as a "pure" XML
        format, and in fact everything that someone (including myself) has suggested

        The reductive method could be applied here. We could define the use-case of
        RSS as, for example, "syndication of blog items", which is pretty much the
        use case of RSS0.92+/RSS2.0 and design appropriately, dropping features such
        a case doesn't need.

        Dropping such a feature is likely to lead to a split as developers no longer
        served look elsewhere, indeed that is part of the reason for the
        RDFSS/RichSS split. Such a split may indeed be a good thing, but there are
        obviously disadvantages in the loss of momentum and critical mass that it
        would entail.

        In all I would avoid a reductive definition of RSS+'s purpose. If needed
        such reduction can be provided by APIs in only providing access to some of a
        feed's information without necessitating the same reduction in the format

        This isn't conducive to simplicity, but it doesn't preclude it either, and
        everyone benefits from simplicity (that said I'd be prepared to sacrifice
        simplicity from an RDF perspective to gain simplicity from an XML
        perspective - as in using Collection).
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