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1502Re: [syndication] Evangelizing RSS

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  • Dave Winer
    May 12, 2001
      Right on Julian. I'm glad you had the courage to hit the Send key.

      My main question, beyond what you've covered here, is how to evolve.

      Based on other uses of version numbering in software, one would reasonably
      conclude that 1.0 came after 0.92, but that's not true. And what of future
      versions? And what if RSS starts getting press? Or would it already *be*
      getting press if it were not for the confusion?

      Perhaps you have some ideas about this as well.


      ----- Original Message -----
      From: "Julian Bond" <julian@...>
      To: <syndication@yahoogroups.com>
      Sent: Saturday, May 12, 2001 12:47 PM
      Subject: Re: [syndication] Evangelizing RSS

      > Sometime it helps to wait a day or two before hitting the send key. I
      > shouldn't even have to say this, but I'm not trying to be contentious
      > here, I'm trying to get some perspective.
      > I came to this late, long after the major work was done on defining rss.
      > I've read enough and done enough research to understand some of the
      > sources of the discontent, but I really wonder what all the fuss is
      > about. From where I'm standing, rss looks like a major success. I don't
      > have figures to back it up, but I suspect it's *the* most successful XML
      > format in terms of implementations. Anyone care to guess how many Mb of
      > rss data are created every day?
      > The competing standards are close enough that from the point of view of
      > a consumer of rss, or a programmer parsing the data, the differences are
      > a small pain but really not hard.
      > So without further ado. And in order from the ridiculous to the
      > sensible.
      > Q: What is RSS?
      > 1: It's a set of three letters that seem to create tension between
      > people whenever they're mentioned.
      > 2: It's a name not an acronym. At least no one acronym. At various
      > times, it has been converted into an acronym meaning Rich Site Summary,
      > Really Simple Syndication or something else entirely.
      > 3: It's one of several XML formats that Userland use to transport
      > information around various parts of the Userland cloud. Despite (or
      > perhaps, because of) their involvement in the development of several of
      > the rss variants, their use of rss is subtly different to everyone
      > else's. But the differences are so small as to be effectively irrelevant
      > and the Userland sites are a major source of information in rss format.
      > 4: It's a name for a loose collection of related but subtly different
      > and competing standards using XML. The standards are simple enough that
      > it's easy to create the files either with code or by hand. They
      > are also close enough that it's fairly trivial to write code that can
      > read the data from any of them and do something useful with it. The
      > standards are designed to allow a content generation website to
      > syndicate its headlines to other websites in a simple, and easy to
      > create form. Inevitably, inventive people have thought of many other
      > sources and uses.
      > It's hard to tell how many websites publish an RSS file but estimates
      > suggest there are now >4000 publically accessible rss feeds on the
      > internet. Manila and most of the "Slash" codesets like Scoop,
      > PHP-Nuke and Drupal generate rss by default. In addition, there are
      > several efforts round the web to convert existing websites into an rss
      > feed with or without the approval of the website owners. All this
      > suggests that the actual figure may be much higher. On the commercial
      > and semi-commercial side, Moreover, 10.am and others are collecting
      > headline data from mostly commercial sites, categorizing it and then re-
      > publishing it as rss, among other formats.
      > 5. But above all, rss is really simple, simon. I bet if you stripped the
      > descriptions to the bone, you could fit all the variants on a single
      > sheet of A4. Even a pretty poor programmer, such as myself, can extract
      > the data from rss with a few string functions and generate it with a few
      > more.
      > This is it's greatest strength.
      > -----------------------------------------------------------------
      > So what to do?
      > Well, if you manage a website, generate an rss file. Pick a format and
      > just do it, by hand if you have to. My preference would be for 0.92 but
      > if you prefer rdf, use 1.0. I don't care. And then make sure it's
      > obvious on your site where it is.
      > For my uses, I keep wanting to pick up rss from sites that don't
      > currently produce it. So I hassle the webmaster. It doesn't always work,
      > but sometimes it does. I suggest you do the same.
      > --
      > Julian Bond eMail: julian@...
      > HomeURL: http://www.shockwav.demon.co.uk/
      > WorkURL: http://www.netmarketseurope.com/
      > WebLog: http://roguemoon.manilasites.com/
      > M: +44 (0)77 5907 2173 T: +44 (0)20 7420 4363
      > ICQ:33679668 tag:So many words, so little time
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