Insomnia (insomnia) wrote,

I saw it coming... or why Blogger and LiveJournal both suck. (Yes, again.)

This post is about RSS, that magical, mystical, odd-looking code that every LiveJournal account automatically generates, which ties all of the various sites on the Internet together, allowing me to read the daily Doonesbury in my friends list.

Last May, I translated a speech of Bill Gates into English, so you could tell what he meant when he started talking about RSS.

"Blogging is interesting for the problems it solves, but it's not easy for us to control, so we'd rather find a way to subvert it somehow. RSS is also interesting. Not as interesting as SOAP, mind you, because SOAP is our bitch, but we're hopeful that we can find ways to make RSS our bitch too... probably by using our software to generate invalid RSS."

And today, we have this news...
Microsoft's next version of its browser, Internet Explorer 7, will make it easier for people to keep automatically aware of website updates. . . The move is part of wider plans Microsoft has to integrate RSS formats throughout its latest version of Windows - Longhorn - which it sees as a major step forward. . . Microsoft also said it had created some new extensions to the RSS format..."

Yep. New extentions that they'll implement into their software/OS, and use as a way of leveraging their advantage. They're trying to do to RSS what they did to HTML, essentially creating a divide between real RSS and RSS that works for Microsoft's software.

It's the old Microsoft model at work again: embrace and extend. They forgot to mention the other E though. Extinguish.

And LiveJournal and Blogger? Well, a lot of the reason we face the potential for a second, arguably incompatible flavor of RSS is because of them. Web-based syndication via RSS was important. Anyone with any real sense for such things should've seen the train coming as early as 2000. But both LiveJournal and Blogger failed to implement full RSS support in a timely manner. Then, when a lot of the hard work had been done to make RSS a viable and useful tool, both LJ and Blogger decided that they'd take a shot at recreating the wheel by offering up ATOM syndication, a completely unnecessary fork of RSS. ATOM was released, hyped amongst the digerati, and proceeded to go *buzzbuzzbuzzFLOP!* None of the *REAL* users wanted or needed it. It serves no greater purpose, other than the fact that today, Google can say "We own ATOM"... and, for all intents and purposes, they do.

As I said over a year ago:
"Some people can't play nice together, and now the users (and developers in general) will have to suffer for it. This situation can and should have been avoided, so by the time Microsoft entered the arena, they would be facing a strong, unified syndication format that best represented the needs of the people."

Instead, I fully expect we'll be saddled with three different, uniquely incompatible flavors of web-based syndication. Gee, thanks guys...

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