RSS is a Network - The RSS Blog
Blogging about Really Simple Syndication, RDF, FOAF, The Semantic Web and Social Software.
Copyright 2003-5 Randy Charles Morin
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Wed, 27 Apr 2005 17:49:51 GMT
RSS is a Network

You always have to remember that RSS is a network, not only a file format. A certain billionaire blogged something a few days ago that wasn't too smart. He deleted it within a few minutes. I assume by that, he doesn't want me to reblog it and I won't. But, the RSS network picked it up. It's in my reader, as well as many other RSS aggregators. It's a network. Hitting delete doesn't delete it everywhere. I Gmailed it to myself for permanent safe keeping. I didn't Gmail David Stern and never will either. I saved him a few $Ks. Hopefully, he'll donate it to my favorite charity.

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I would have hoped that we could have gotten our terminology sorted out by now, but apparently that is not the case.

Point one:  RSS *is* is fact merely a file format, much as HTML is.  HTML is a file format for "web pages".  RSS is *a* format for "web feeds".  Atom is another format for "web feeds".  Who knows what other formats might evolve down the road for "web feeds".

Point two:  It's technologically bankrupt to promote a particular file format name as a *generic* term when it is the umbrella concept ("web feed") that really matters.  I give the early WWW guys credit for focusing on "web sites" and "web pages" and the "World Wide Web" rather than "HTML sites" and "HTML pages" and the "World Wide HTML".

Point three: People with no true technical saavy will latch on to whatever buzzword hits their ears, but those of with some modicum of technical expertise should not be fueling a rush to *bad* terminology.

Point four:  Caching or saving copies of data does not fit the definition for a "network".

As things stand today, we really do have only one common network, the "World Wide Web", which includes web sites, web pages, and web feeds, and other data files as well as services.

Now, if you and others wish to establish a P2P "overlay network" to share your saved/cached copies of "web feed" items, that would be an entirely new story.  I might call that a "Saved Web Feed Content Network", but it would be inappropriate to name it based merely on the low-level file format rather than the generic or "logical" concept from a user's perspective.  You might also give it a "brand" name as well.

In the future, lets all try to have a higher standard for the quality of both our technology and our terminology.  The non-techies of the world really do depend on our leadership for getting the terminology right.

-- Jack Krupansky


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