Scripting News for 2/22/2006

Betsy Devine playing the guitar in her early 20s. Babe! 

Jackson West: “San Francisco coffee shops are where to get your startup off the ground.” 

Thanks to Eric Norlin for the kind words about the RSS 2.0 roadmap. 

Scoble is hanging out with Joe Trippi, formerly of Dean For America, in Seattle. He looks tan, fit and relaxed.  

Why formats like RSS 2.0 work 

The roadmap of the RSS 2.0 spec, a piece of text that I thought about for years, but actually wrote in just a few minutes, has been the key to keeping RSS a stable platform for people to build on.

There have always been people who feel that the roadmap should be broken, but it hasn’t been broken, and it won’t be, because now there’s a huge community that has invested billions of dollars around its assumptions.

The roadmap actually encourages risk, but some people always seem to want to have their ideas accepted without taking the risk. They think they can make something better than RSS and shouldn’t have to go through the same vetting process that RSS itself went through. Now, it may be possible that after three years in the market, that RSS 2.0 could be radically improved, but the roadmap says that no person or group of people has the exclusive right to improve it, and that no one can interfere with the stability of the platform. That’s no different if you work for a small company or large, or don’t work for a company at all.

Yet the roadmap provides two paths for people who wish to radically improve on RSS. You can extend it through namespaces, or you can take the format and make a new format as an evolution, but you must not call that RSS.

These constraints have served us well. They have kept the platform stable, so Microsoft could take two years to adopt it from top to bottom in their Windows operating system, and not have RSS change while they did their work. Small companies also need time to get their ideas, built on top of RSS, to market, to build their teams, and win customers, and compete with others, not on compatibility, but on value to customers: price, performance, service.

This is what we all have to live with, me, you, everyone involved in RSS. No one has the exclusive right to determine the path forward for RSS, you may influence but you may not decide. You have to sell your ideas, they are not mandates.

5 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by scott on February 22, 2006 at 6:03 am

    > there have always been people who feel
    > that the roadmap should be broken

    The biggest problem isn’t that the roadmap needs fixing. It’s that there are so many RSS 2.0 feeds out there that are broken and so many developers out there struggling with how to deal with these broken feeds.

    > You can extend it through namespaces

    RSS 2.0 namespaces have been a failure. All you have to do is look at the damage that Apple has caused with *their* itunes namespace.

    > you can take the format and make a new format
    > as an evolution, but you must not call that RSS

    Who gave you the right to make such a declaration? What if the RSS 1.0 folks had dictated that it was the final implementation of RSS??

    The roadmap includes the following sentence…

    > We anticipate possible 2.0.2 or 2.0.3 versions, etc.
    > only for the purpose of clarifying the specification,
    > not for adding new features to the format.

    Isn’t the RSS Advisory Board that you established following your roadmap with their recent proposal for clarifying RSS 2.0 with documentation that is accurate and easily understandable? If not, what new features are they adding?

    > These constraints have served us well.

    The constraints, politics, and drama have also served Atom well. Microsoft was able to adopt Atom 1.0 very quickly relative to the two years that they took to adopt RSS 2.0.


  2. Hi dave, your email on scripting news seems busted so ill comment here.

    Ive been working on an “outliner” (if you could call it that, more toy than anything). I’ve got my opml publishing/export working with the OPML editor and i’ve left my personal outline as my URL here. It works with instant outlining and after some refactoring work I’ll be ready to open the API. Feel free to subscribe to my outline, i’m hoping to outline my progress.

    Registration is open to everyone, however note that this is early release and a newer version is coming. Some downtime will happen next month.


  3. Posted by Peter Vamos on February 22, 2006 at 4:53 pm

    Hello Dave,

    Cannot see an e-mail for you anywhere hence the message through this conduit. You may be interested in the discussion on MORE at

    I enjoy reading your scripting news from time to time.


  4. Point of information: sometimes startups get their start in coffeeshops in Oakland and Berkeley, too.


  5. […] So I’d like to take a moment to look at some of the feedback to the post (a mention from Dave Winer and a quip from Craig Newmark certainly didn’t hurt). I speak a smattering of Spanish, French, German and Russian, and can tell the difference between my Simplified and Traditional Chinese, not to mention Hiragana versus Katakana, but lord if I have any idea what language this is. How awesome is that? […]


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