Scripting News for 7/20/2007

Representing Pownce data in RSS? 

I’m here at lunch in Palo Alto with Nik Cubrilovic.

We’re talking about Pownce, Twitter and Facebook.

In Pownce each item can be one of four types: 1. Message. 2. Link. 3. File. 4. Event.

#1, #2 and #3 can easily be represented as an RSS 2.0 item. A message just has a <description>. A link has a description and a <link>. A file has an <enclosure>, but — what about an Event? How would you represent that in a RSS item?


Brooklyn after the Dodgers left 

On the morning of my birthday in 1985 my brother made sure I was out of the office all morning before we went to lunch at MacArthur Park, across from the train station in downtown Palo Alto. He led me into a special dining room where about a hundred people where assembled singing Happy Birthday.

Back then MacArthur Park was the Silicon Valley business restaurant, just as Hyatt Rickey’s was the business hotel. It was before Il Fornaio and Spago or even Jing Jing or Siam Garden. We were young, it was our world, and we had a place to eat and talk deals.

I had lunch there today. While the menu was the same, the food was poorly prepared, and the place had an empty feeling. Maybe this is how Brooklyn felt after the Dodgers left. Sad to see a place so far past its prime, a place that held so many memories, but it seems unlikely that it will hold new memories for the current generation of young Silicon Valley entrepreneurs. That’s gotta be happening some place else.

Thanks to Joel Spolsky 

Every so often I get a link from Joel, and the traffic goes through the roof. Lots of people read his blog, because he’s smart and he knows how to tell a story.

Today he points to a piece I wrote on January 1 of this year about what makes a blog a blog.

BTW, he says that I don’t allow comments on Scripting News. That’s not exactly true, there are comments here, but you have to look carefully to find them. I find this ups the quality enormously — people don’t generally comment here to embarass anyone or to provoke a fight — there isn’t enough traffic to interest those people. But the people who want to add information to a thread here on Scripting News, and have been reading the site long enough to know what it’s about, they find their way to the comments and add something to the mix.

For example, Mark Smith, in response to a piece I wrote yesterday about Facebook, explains the phenomenon from the point of view of a thoughtful blogger.

Comments about the OPML 2.0 spec 

A couple of good posts with suggested changes to the OPML 2.0 spec.

I’m linking to them here so I can come back to them later when I have time to review them, consider the requests, and possibly revise the spec. Thanks.

To be clear, I’m looking for errors or oversights in the spec, not suggestions for the format. The spec has been in draft form since March of last year. Right now I’m just looking for issues that should be fixed before the spec is frozen.

Looks like Friday is South Bay Day 

Last week I spent Friday in the Palo Alto area, and today I’m headed down there for some meetings.

Next Friday is the TechCrunch summer party at August Capital. Looks like Fridays are turning into Silicon Valley Day for Dave.

22 responses to this post.

  1. Knowing about your comments, I was quite surprised to read you didn’t allow it.
    I think there are two kinds of blog posts (for this point anyway), the first is an editorial (the kind in Joel’s post) and the second a post for conversation or feedback. You tend to do both.
    Opening up comments doesn’t necessarily mean it will devolve into the mess Joel describes. And if one is worried about that, it’s easy to get around, require a real, verifiable email address or membership to post.
    I often times find a lot of good information in comments that wasn’t necessarily put forth in the original post.


  2. hcal type enclosure for the events


  3. Funny enough I was just reading Joel’s article via Leo on Pownce then came across this in my RSS reader. Full circle.
    Regarding events in RSS, could you use the hcalendar microformat in RSS? It might take a bit of work but it would be nice if you could easily get into then out of RSS in the hcalendar format.


  4. I also think for events it should use hcalendar in the post content – makes it easy. Having a link is easy enough, same for a file.

    This might explain why pownce doesn’t have RSS feeds yet – lets hope they get it together


  5. I was going to say “use hcalendar” but the others beat me to it. This is definitely the best way.


  6. Yeah, hcal is definitely the obvious thing to do if you’ve got space for a block of xhtml.


  7. I really like the idea of having microformats within RSS post bodies as a way of handling other data types and forms

    Now all we need is for Pownce to get their stuff together and add RSS feeds (authenticated and not), and the aggregators to recognize common microformats


  8. I’ll second (third? fourth?) hCal in RSS descriptions. In fact, I tend to think it’s better to throw some microformat HTML into the description than to extend RSS itself with namespaces and whatnot.

    I’d also really, really like to see enclosures in pownce feeds.


  9. Les: I also believe that enclosures is the right way to handle file sharing. for bookmarks could just use the URL element.

    It seems that everybody agrees how this should work, its almost common sense


  10. Not sure I’m understanding you correctly Nik, but bookmarks are definitely not enclosures. It’s like saying you could put a baloney sandwich in a cereal box, you certainly could, but it would be mislabeling it. Better to put it in a baggie. The link element is PERFECT for a bookmark. That’s what should be used.


  11. Hey Dave, I should have split the sentence up and said ‘link’ instead of ‘url’ but that is what I meant 🙂


  12. I shared this site that my co-worker and I built over a year ago.


  13. I think an ICS enclosure is the best representation. Feed reading applications built-in to a platform such as Windows or Apple can recognize the content and allow other applications to bind to the appropriate MIME type or pass off to the OS-level calendar store.


  14. Niall, if hCalendar is used, then ICS format can easily be generated (typically using XSLT), plus it’s directly readable as HTML.

    I’m obliged to point out the format question is a non-issue in RSS 1.0, because of its RDF base. All you have to consider is the modelling, and in this case that’s in place with iCalendar. Hence RDF Calendar. Also compatible with any other RDF, e.g. FOAF.

    Nowadays RSS 2.0 isn’t a total loss in terms of interop here, as the GRDDL mechanism can be used on microformats (with the caveat that embedded hCalendar would almost certainly lack a profile URI, so this would really be neater scraping, not hi-fi publisher-consumer communication).


  15. How would my app best share a list of RSS feeds – a feed isn’t one of the four item types in your list. OK I guess I should use OPML ;-). The point, though, is still valid… do we need some abstraction built into RSS to provide flexibility for handling >4 data types? A concrete example: my app would like to share data on real-world locations e.g. geotag, name, description.


  16. Pownce has Atom, I had problems finding a feed too. It’s only on your public page. They have no problems defining a custom namespace either. Every entry gets this:



    An event looks like this:

    brb going to the moon
    the moon

    There are a couple of other pownce-specific additions to the feed too. Fun stuff.


  17. <pownce:stars>0.0</pownce:stars>
    <pownce:recipients count=”33″></pownce:recipients>

    <name>brb going to the moon</name>
    <location>the moon</location>

    Attempt #2, wish this thing had a preview.


  18. I think MacArthur Park is better for Sunday brunch nowadays.


  19. Posted by ofxuy on July 23, 2007 at 1:18 pm

    Dave, I am curious to know your thoughts on the xCal format.


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