So I see a headline from CNet in my news reader for an article saying Google may support RSS in Blogger again. I start reading the article and the first sentence of the second paragraph blows me away. It needs fisking, so here it is.
RSS, or Rich Site Summary, lets online publishers automatically send Web content to subscribers, giving readers a powerful tool to compile news headlines on the fly from several sources at once. Next to Atom, which launched as a challenger last year, RSS has become a leading candidate to form the basis of an industry standard for an entirely new style of Web publishing.
First the writer is clueless. RSS stands for Really Simple Syndication. How clueless can you be writing an article like this and not do a simple Google search to find out what you are talking about?
Atom came out last summer and RSS came out in 1996. RSS is the standard for weblog syndication. Has been for years and is so entrenched I doubt it is going a way for a long time to come.
Atom is the new kid on the block and the biggest thing it has going for it is that Google supports it. I’m using a beta version of my news reader, NetNewsWire Lite, which is the dominate news read for the Mac, so I can get Atom for one site. This means the main Mac newsfeed reader doesn’t support this new fangled feed type yet. How many other news readers do?
The author of the article goes on as if RSS is some kind of fringe thing and Atom is the standard.
Next to Atom, which launched as a challenger last year, RSS has become a leading candidate to form the basis of an industry standard for an entirely new style of Web publishing that lets readers compile news headlines on the fly from several sources at once.
RSS isn’t the “leading candidate”. It is the standard.
Another thing I don’t like about this article is it provides a link to the Atom page, but not to the RSS home page. That would be because the author never went there.
And what is the relationship between RDF and Atom? I see a lot more sites with a RDF feed than I do with an Atom one. But it isn’t mentioned
Were Google to support both RSS and Atom equally, it might help ease growing pains for a swiftly rising movement of Web publishing. It would also restore Google to the status of a neutral party in the midst of a bitter fight between backers of RSS and Atom, who have been divided since last summer when critics of RSS banded together to create the alternative format. Since then, many blog sites and individuals have rallied behind Atom.
Since I’ve been doing this blogging thing there has been a debate about RSS and wether to use it. Mostly this had to do with control. People didn’t like the fact Dave Winer controlled the format because he invented it. But as with many things those that were arguing about it we a small loud minority.
Sam Ruby, an IBM software engineer, launched Atom last summer as a way of bypassing what he and other critics called Winer’s de facto control over RSS. … Detractors of RSS argue that the format is closed because it is essentially governed by one man, Winer.
Notice this paragraph points out twice that the problem with RSS is that Winer controls it. Don’t miss it its an important point that we must make at the expense of good writing.
The gatekeepers for this standard are writers of aggregators and blog software. All blog software writers put in support for RSS first because it is dominant, easy to do, and all half way savvy users will demand it. All alternatives are more complicated to implement and most authors didn’t want to put the time in to implement one. On the aggregator side, the origin of aggregators is RSS. The players in that field aren’t likely to change and no one is going to take any kind of market share writing a Atom only aggregator.
And you have the classic chicken and egg software problem. Aggregators didn’t want to support new formats until blogs started using them, and blog software didn’t was to support the new feed types until aggregators did.
So the best thing that ever happen to Atom was Google buying Blogger and choosing it.
My personal thought on Google’s change of heart is they realize the market wants RSS.