RSS is how the news flows
Wednesday, August 26, 2009 by Dave Winer.
To Sam Diaz who says RSS was “a good idea at the time but there are better ways now,” I have many things to say.
1. People confuse RSS with Google Reader. Let’s be clear that there’s a difference. Google Reader is an application that reads RSS-formatted data. There are many other applications that read and write RSS.
2. I think Google Reader was, on the whole, a good thing. It’s probably the best reader of its variety. You have to go find the new stuff in Google Reader. I prefer a reader that finds the new stuff for me, and presents it in reverse chronologic order. This is known as a river of news reader.
4. My newspaper doesn’t tell me how many articles I haven’t read going back to the date of my birth. I bet it would be in the millions. Why should I care. This was the worst idea ever in news readers.
5. The core problem — so many programmers who write RSS software are not themselves news junkies. If they were they’d know when they got it wrong. News is about what’s new! Show me the newest stuff first. Sorry to all the articles I didn’t read, maybe in the next lifetime.
7. If all the RSS on the planet were all of a sudden to stop updating (key point) the news would stop flowing. Any news guy or gal who thinks they could get by without RSS — think this through a bit more. We all love the Internet, but don’t shut off your gas and electric because your computer and router wouldn’t work without electricity. Same with RSS and news. RSS is how the news flows, whether you see it or not. If not RSS, something exactly like RSS.
8. The Internet is layered. New technology comes on line building on tech that already existed. RSS was like that. It built on XML and HTTP, which built on text and TCP/IP. The new things that Diaz likes so much, in exactly the same way, build on RSS.
9. When news authors don’t understand how technology evolves, they propagate incorrect notions to everyone else, including would-be inventors, who have to figure it out for themselves, and then convince investors and partners they know what they’re doing — when they just read in ZDNet that things don’t evolve at all. So Mr. Diaz does us all a disservice.
10. I object when technology writers tell the story of technology incorrectly. People say I should just be happy to see my name in the story, or in this case something that I fathered. No deal. I want the accurate story out there. I want people to understand how technology really works, because that’s central to users being empowered by it, instead of being controlled by it.
August 30, 2009
RSS is how the news flows