Weblogs: Miscellaneous

Rogers Cadenhead - a hypocrite?

Saturday, May 01, 2004

A quote from the New York Times, naturally in relation to Google - the arch enemy of the tin-foil hat brigade, from Rogers Cadenhead:

Because Google is so popular, its smallest decisions can carry great weight. Rogers Cadenhead, a Web site developer and author, said he was disturbed that Google supports one format for distributing Web log entries over another. "I would boycott Google if I could," said Mr. Cadenhead, of St. Augustine, Fla., who said he spends hours a day on the site. "But I can't. It's like boycotting gas."

This is over the issue of Google deciding to add Atom feeds to their free Blogger service. So Cadenhead is disturbed about a company chosing one format over another. Interestingly, I don't ever recall him being disturbed when the New York Times, and CNet, amongst others, have also made a similar one-sided decision. So why single out Google?

The reason Cadenhead gives is that he uses Google quite often. Yet he is subscribed to both the New York Times and CNet, so its not the frequency of use. Seems a little odd, doesn't it? All three companies have made a decision of one format over another, yet Google is singled out for criticism, but not the other two.

Its not that Google made a choice that ruffled Cadenhead, its the fact they chose Atom over RSS 2.0 that riles him so. I bet if Google had chosen RSS instead of Atom, Rogers wouldn't now be quoted in the New York Times. Look at the facts - Rogers Cadenhead: an outspoken customer of Userland, the author of a book on Radio Userland , and a personal friend of Dave Winer has an invested interest in RSS. Perhaps even a dependance on its future success or survival.

A few weeks ago, Rogers Cadenhead had a go at Ben Hammersley because of an article he wrote for the Guardian over the uncompromising and failed Atom RSS "peace proposal". The article acknowledged that Ben was author of the O'Reilly book "Content syndication with RSS". That wasn't enough for Rogers, who promptly complained to the Guardian about what he referred to as "improper disclosure", he wanted Hammersley's involvement in the RSS1.0 working group - probably a step too far for Guardian readers, the vast majority of whom have never heard of RSS.

Did Rogers properly disclose his involvement in the syndication format Google didn't choose? It certainly doesn't look like it, he is referred to as just "a website developer and author", not "an evangelist of a format Google didn't chose". You would have thought the New York Times would spot a conflict of interest, unless Cadenhead himself didn't disclose the true background of his comments. Rogers defends himself with:

That's the big problem with Hammersley's piece; it's fundamentally dishonest to present his coverage of RSS as a straight news story when he's strongly involved in syndication format development.

In that regard, surely Rogers knew that his deep involvement in RSS, and his dislike of Atom is the core reason behind his distured view of Google, not the fact that Google chose one format out of two.

Its surprising that a journalist and developer of Rogers Cadenhead's caliber finds himself caught in this sort of mess. Considering the bulk of the anti-Atom nonsense is based on the lack of support in Userland Radio, Rogers is perfectly capable of writing a Radio script to allow the aggregation of the Atom format. That would be a constructive developer's approach to solving this problem.

Rogers, you don't need a tin-foil hat. Seriously, you have nothing to fear from Atom.

Update 13th May 2004: Rogers replies with Examined at the Atomic Level:

I told the reporter that I was a computer book author and Web publisher who works extensively with syndication formats.

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