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There's been some recent discussion of the RSS 2.0 ttl element. There's a bit of history to it, and a grand plan that as far as I know, was never put into action.
In April and May of 2002, we were working with Streamcast Networks, the makers of the Morpheus P2P client on integrating RSS with Gnutella. The ttl element was the key that would allow the network, which consisted of many millions of nodes, to share RSS feeds that were hosted on servers that likely couldn't take the pounding such a network could deliver. At the time, Morpheus was trying to re-launch after being shut down by a court order. I learned a lot from their CTO, Darrell Smith, who I spoke with several times, at length, in the spring of 2002.
Here's how ttl was intended to work. Suppose you have a copy of Gnutella running on your machine, and I have one running on my machine. My machine wants a copy of a certain feed, so it asks your machine if it has it. Your copy of Gnutella looks in its cache, finds a copy of the feed, takes the lastBuildDate, adds its ttl value. If the resulting time is greater than the current time, it says yes, I can give you that, otherwise it says no. If your Gnutella strikes out, if everyone it asks says no, it reads the feed from the feed's server.
I'm not sure what happened at Morpheus, but this was just before I got knocked out in June, and I didn't return to UserLand after that, so the project with Streamcast was never completed. The ttl element, however, made it into the RSS 2.0 spec, later that year, and it's still there, presumably ready to be used should this problem ever appear. Of course, in practice, in 2006, there aren't many feeds that receive so many hits as to require this peer-to-peer treatment. The market went a different way, at least for now.
Hope this helps.
© Copyright 1997-2006 Dave Winer.