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Easy as Pie: An end to RSS politics?

Tuesday, June 24, 2003

RSS' troubled present is certainly having an interesting effect in its future - its looking as if RSS has no future as an open standard, and that people involved in RSS are looking for a vendor-independant solution.

Dave Winer insists over and over again that the RSS 2.0 specification is copyright of Userland, but is freely extendable and extensible by any developer, and that he has no control over it. Unfortunately his antics over the last few weeks have disproved that notion entirely. Winer seems to be adverse to improvements and extending of RSS2.0, and has been casting funky FUD over feeds that don't limit themselves to exactly what Winer claims is the only true implementation of RSS. Winer seems to be unwilling (or unable) to rationalise the reasons behind his attacks on the community he claims - it seems to boil down to people using an ISO standard date format (instead of Winer's law of US-centric dates) , and the using of namespaces to extend RSS (which is a key deliverable of RSS2.0). By dispensing FUD in this manner, Winer is deliberately clouding the issue to end-users - the very group of people he claims to be protecting. His idea of compromise and consensus boils down to "my way or no way".

RSS history is punctuated by Winer outbursts and politicking to the extent that the rest of the RSS community is fed up enough to now do something about it. Each outburst seems to alienate more and more sections of the weblog community. It seems clear that Winer is not the benevolant guiding light of RSS, but he (and his ego) are part of the problem preventing or hindering the broad acceptance of content syndication (not to mention Userland attempting to trademark RSS).

Sam Ruby initiated a wiki brainstorming session to detail and describe the anatomy of a well formed weblog entry. The enthusiasm generated by this effort is nothing short of astonishing, and there is certainly a consensus of opinion that weblog syndication needs to move forward. Some notable people are quite supportive of Sam's efforts, including: Tim Bray, Joe Gregorio, Mark Pilgrim, Mark Nottingham, Aaron Swartz, Timothy Appnel and James Snell.

There seems to be momentum in Sam's initiative, tentatively called Pie, and there's a roadmap available. Certainly looks a better alternative to the belitting politics of RSS 2.0. I support this effort (and hope I can offer something constructive).

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