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Permanent link to archive for Thursday, July 03, 2003. Thursday, July 03, 2003

A picture named lawnGnome.jpgGuardian reporter Neil McIntosh attended a Thursday weblog writer's meeting at Berkman in early June, and filed a report in today's paper. 

Chad Dickerson: "When I started using an RSS newsreader daily, some remarkable things happened that I didn't necessarily expect: I began to spend almost no time surfing to keep up with current technology information, and I was suddenly able to manage a large body of incoming information with incredible efficiency." 

Adam Curry: "Big fire today in Zaandam, just north of Amsterdam. A cocoa storage facility caught fire. 300 firemen at the scene and one blogger in the air. Dean and I grabbed the new camera and flew up to give or new setup a try." 

Dear Evan, yes I like a good standard as much as the next guy. But when you have one, and someone decides to break it, how do we know you won't do it again, and again and again. The issue isn't whether a standard is a good thing or not, the issue is whether you get to throw out all our work.  

Sam Ruby says the vote on whether to drop XML-RPC was ill-conceived and ill-timed. Hmm. No matter. Developers chose to stay with XML-RPC by a wide margin. So now we look to Evan Williams to change his statement about dropping support of XML-RPC. Turns out the developers don't want breakage. Not really much of a surprise, of course. Over to you Evan. 

DotNetJunkies: Got RSS? 

Rogers Cadenhead has been looking into an RSS validator. 

BlagoNet is a Flash-based RSS reader. 

Philip Greenspun: "Having been a passenger on an airplane that makes a carrier landing does not make our President into a front-line soldier." 

7/4/1776: "We hold these truths to be self-evident." 

Elmer Fudd: "Be vewy vewy quiet. I'm hunting wabbits." 

Yosemite Sam: "Dead rabbits tell no tales." 

Name withheld: "I take it for granted that you've experienced LSD, as I have I. I'm wondering if some of these younger engineers have." 

Phillip Pearson cloned my subscriptions harmonizer

Denise Howell, a lawyer, says the harmonizer might be the thing that makes aggregators useful to her.  

A hole in the design of the harmonizer. When I unsubscribe, it just deletes it in the central place, it doesn't percolate to the other aggregators. Hole closed in Radio implementation. I also want to do a Top-100 list of public feeds the members subscribe to. 

Capsule review 

Mark Bernstein sent an email to several developers asking us to comment on the latest goings-on. Here's what I said.

"John Robb said a few days ago what I believe will turn out to be true.

"The Wiki is there to give the illusion that it's a community process, but in the end the decision will be made on the basis of how many users and how much money each player has. Or how much sway, like a guy like Tim Bray.

"The smaller developers, with less money and fewer users are better served by staying with the formats and protocols developed over the last few years. They're easier to support and they are already supported.

"Imagine a railroad company that decided that the old railroad tracks had to be ripped up and rail laid on a different route. What about the towns that had grown up on the original route? Too bad so sad."

A gentle note about re-inventing 

I wanted to do a bootstrap, in public, at the same time that many developers are exploring the work that I did over the last five or six years. I wanted to do the bootstrap to remind myself that they get the benefit of not having to go down the blind alleys, if they choose to respect prior art. It was hard work to get clients and servers in place to support the formats and protocols, when very few people believed there was value to the work. (Actually in some ways it was easier.)

A picture named koreaGirl.jpgTo my chagrin none of the re-inventers have ever asked, "Hey Dave, why did you do it that way?" In fact they seem to assume that every decision that I made was wrong, they seem to go in the opposite direction from prior art, in kind of a random way. In my experience that is not a good way to design formats and protocols or software.

For example, some seem to place a high value on what XML-RPC looks like on the wire. This has come up before, and I have expressed an opinion that was rejected, that what matters is what the XML-RPC call looks like in your programming language. I still strongly believe that; and that's why over the years I've invested in making it easier and easier, without changing what's on the wire. It's also the reason Python is one of the more popular languages for XML-RPC apps, because it has a very flexible way of creating remote procedure calls that look much like local ones.

Anyway, I'm available for friendly questions, if they ever come. I did the formats and protocols in a totally open way, and borrowed from prior art where ever possible. Sir Isaac Newton said he could see further because he stood on the shoulders of giants. That's the way I like to develop. I steal ideas from the best. But in the software world, far too often, we stand on each others' toes, and hate the people who came before. This is the worst of what we do, and the sooner we nuke it, the faster we'll progress. Some days I think that's why we're in a depression in our industy, and we would instantly snap out of it if we started respecting each other better, which means listening without fear. After all, while Murphy's Law still applies to everything we do, so does Moore's Law. Growth should be easy, but our industry is not growing.

I don't expect this little essay to change the minds of people who hate me, probably quite the opposite, it will make them hate me more. But it will help the people who want to understand what's going on, and thereby may help to neutralize the hate, and help us achieve real forward motion, not circular motion, or worse, reverse motion, which is what happens when people tear down what works without understanding why it works.


Last update: Thursday, July 03, 2003 at 4:14 PM Eastern.

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