Scripting News for 12/22/2006

Here’s an acid test for Microsoft re their patent of RSS technology, and whether or not it’s intended for defensive use only. I have no patents on RSS technology, and therefore have imposed no limits on what Microsoft can do with the technology. Will Microsoft reciprocate, and grant me a non-exclusive, perpetual license to use any of their RSS technology in my own products? If it’s defensive, they should be willing to grant those rights to anyone who disclaims any patents in this area.  

11PM Pacific: Another earthquake in Berkeley

Ian Douglas of the Telegraph on the situation with Microsoft’s RSS patent. Nice piece, except he claims that “Really Simple Syndication” was a joke. I don’t know where he got that idea; it was not a joke.  

Steve Gillmor: “Now we live in an RSS world. What to do next?” 

Re Microsoft’s patent on RSS applications, apparently it’s not a grant of a patent, but a patent application. Nick Bradbury suggests it’s a defensive patent, but we have no way of knowing that, and I assume neither does Nick (he doesn’t say, but I doubt if he has a channel into the mind of Microsoft’s board of directors, today’s and future). I’ve been asked to do a number of press interviews on this, but I don’t see what would be accomplished. Basically I’m coming to believe that if it isn’t nailed down, someone is going to try to take it. Why shouldn’t Microsoft try to take the work of others as its own? All this is going to do is breed more contempt for “intellectual property,” a concept that Microsoft depends on for its existence. The Guardian says that Apple has applied for patents in the same area. So software developers of the future will be like people who run BitTorrent aggregators today. When the law is wrong, as it is in this area, it breeds contempt for the law, and disobedience. 

BTW, if you want an idea why I generally don’t do interviews with professonal reporters, look at the Guardian piece and see if you can spot the unprofessionalism. They can’t seem to leave their arrogance out of it. Why don’t they attack Microsoft that way? Maybe they take ads from them, or hope to? 🙂 

Another theory on why the Guardian is so prickly on this subject — why didn’t they break the story? Their ire hides the fact that despite what the pros would have you believe, quite often they’re the ones commenting on the news you get first in blogs.  

This morning we have 32 signups for a meetup in NYC next week. I think it’s got to be on the 28th, say 5:30PM (so people can come after work). A 2 hour discussion, followed by dinner at a nearby restaurant. People have suggested having it at the Google offices in NYC, that’s fine with me, if it’s okay with them. Using the wiki has turned out real well. Keep up the good work! 🙂 

Here’s the first article I’ve seen in Al Jazeera (I’m subscribed to their feed) that you wouldn’t see in American news. Yes, it’s ridiculous, but I’m sure many of the things Bush says about Iraq appear just as ridiculous from the Arab perspective. It’s a lot more relevant than the news you actually do see on American cable news, today they’re focused on a rape case in North Carolina. Yesterday it was Rosie O’Donnell and they day before that it was whether or not Miss USA was going to get dethroned. Donald Trump decided to give her a second chance, so she could stay the queen for another few months, assuming she went into rehab. All this is going on, supposedly pressing stuff, simultaneously shown on all the cable channels, while dozens of Americans are getting killed and wounded in Iraq, and billions of money we don’t have is being flushed down the drain, and of course hundreds of Iraqis are dying while the country disintegrates into chaos. 

Baron and Pulver, Inc. 

Andrew Baron and Jeff Pulver have started a “new studio network” called Abbey Corps. Andrew believes it’s a “much better business than Podshow or Podtech.” I’ve talked with him about this, at length, and I’m not a believer, as I wasn’t a believer in either of the other ventures he mentions. But the video blogs they’re going to aggregate are presumably going to be funded, and the people involved need some help (probably Zadi Diaz, Amber Dawn MacArthur and Steve Garfield, definitely not Amanda Congdon) so that’s a good thing.

In an environment where YouTube sold to Google for $1.6 billion, it’s not surprising that Andrew and Jeff feel there’s money to be made from bringing a bunch of talent under one roof.

PS: What about Rocketboom?

PPS: Is Ze Frank in this thing?

7 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Chris on December 22, 2006 at 10:04 am

    If it’s the “work of others,” it cannot be patented.

    I think you’re having a kneejerk reaction because you see “Microsoft,” “RSS,” and “patent” together. Have you actually read the patent?–it takes close reading, but it does seem novel to me, novel in the patent sense. Where’s the prior art?–for the specific claim they are actually making, in the patent application?

    If it’s been done before, then all you need to do is show an implementation to the patent office that can be proven to have preceded the date of the patent application, or rather the date of the invention by Microsoft, as long as they filed the application within one year of that.


  2. Posted by Jacob Levy on December 22, 2006 at 10:12 am

    C’mon Dave, its time to stop asking for respect from people you don’t respect 🙂

    Seriously though, this kind of contempt is great. It gives software developers like you and me more room to operate, outside the center of attention of the press. You’ve done it in the past — create surprises that none of them saw coming and now their livelyhood depends on them (I’m thinking about RSS for example) — this just gives more space for surprises. Don’t you always say zig when they zag?


  3. did you notice that Ian Douglas has you tagged as “Bill Winer”?!


  4. You may not hold patents but you work is clearly an example of prior art. There is no way on earth that Microsoft should get a patent for something you – or anyone else – clearly created.


  5. sad to see the BBCriver and NYTriver taken down, I checked them pretty regularly so I know this was a recent change. I guess I jumped the gun on SN formatting also, musta got lucky with a graphic and the paragraph formatting of that day. =/ Oh well… I see what ya mean about the time it takes to maintain such rivers, though I’ll [b]deeply[/b] miss using them for the nicely packaged content streams they were.


  6. The Guardian’s blog post is really not a “piece”. Nothing at has appeared in the newspaper. ‘s just a blog post. Post a comment.

    [Oh, and Jack “Al Jazeera’s running Microsoft’s IIS/5.0 on Linux” Schofield is not exactly revered over here.]


  7. Posted by Chris on December 23, 2006 at 9:42 am

    As John says, it’s a blog post. If they were “professional” sounding even in their blog posts, you’d be criticizing them for not catching the cluetrain. Blogs are supposed to be the raw voice of a real person, right? This particular real person at the Guardian thinks you’re an excitable jerk, that’s all.


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