RSS Proponent Seeks Cooperation with Google

    March 10, 2004

Dave Winer, a major advocate of RSS has proposed a truce with Google and other sites that have partnered with competing syndication format, Atom. RSS is currently the industry leader in syndication and went virtually unchallenged until Google’s recent announcement.

Last month, Google chose Atom, a content syndication standard not compatible with RSS for its website. was acquired by Google earlier this year and is considered the most popular blog portal and facilitator. Content syndication is a way for web publishers (large and small) to have their content updated in close to real time on numerous sites around the web simultaneously.

Companies such as use this technique to syndicate headlines of updated news on hundreds of topics to websites. Those headlines then link back to the original story.

Dave Winer, a fellow at the Berkman Centre for Internet & Society at Harvard Law School, stated in his blog:

So here’s the chance to do something good for the Internet, something not evil. Let’s go Google, let’s go SixApart; it’s time to bury the hatchet and move on. RSS is here to stay and so are Google and Movable Type. Let’s all acknowledge that and stop this fight now.”

Mr. Winer suggests the following in a 7-point manifesto (starting with 0)…

0. We could come up with a new format called say RSS/Atom (which conveniently is the terminology many people, like Scoble, are using to talk about the format used for syndicating publications and weblogs).

1. The format would differ from RSS 2.0 as little as possible.

2. It would have the great spec that the Atom people are promising. A great validator, and lots of support from developers who evangelize the format. There wouldn’t be many flames because everyone would be getting most of what they want.

3. It would be managed by an IETF working group that would be open to anyone who wants to participate, not just me, or Sam Ruby or Blogger and Movable Type, but anyone who wants to make the effort to contribute to furthering the art of syndication technology.

4. It would be backward compatible with RSS 2.0, so that any 2.0 feed could become an RSS/Atom feed by changing (fill in the blank, as little change as possible).

5. The top-level item in the feed would be called rssAtom. It’s a problem for at least one aggregator that the top level item in Atom is called “feed” — not such a problem today, but later when another format comes along that also calls its top level item “feed.” Formats in general should use a distinctive name for their top-level element. (Prior art: HTML, RSS, SOAP, RDF.)

6. What else?

Who is Dave Winer?
As well as being a fellow at Berkman Centre for Internet & Society at Harvard Law School, David is a software developer who has had a hand in authoring XML-RPC, SOAP, RSS and OPML. He spends his time developing numerous applications that impact web standards as a whole. He is also a passionate Blogger. Read more about Dave here.

Chris Richardson is a search engine writer and editor for WebProNews. Visit WebProNews for the latest search news.