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Scripting News, the weblog started in 1997 that bootstrapped the blogging revolution.

More Pubsubhubbub feedback Permanent link to this item in the archive.

A picture named harmonica.jpgWhen I travel to Europe, I wonder why they couldn't just do electric plugs the same way we do in the US. That way I wouldn't have to carry an adapter and I'd be able to plug in more than one device at a time. I wish their cell phones worked the same way ours do (I gather they do now, somewhat) and that billing worked the same (I'll let you know when the bill from my June trip arrives). When I travel to London I wish they had the good sense to drive on the correct side of the road.

Each of these inconveniences were caused by engineers thinking they didn't "have to" worry about the way things were done before. They were right, they didn't have to, and all future users paid for their insistence. Think how much better it would all have worked if they cared.

And some things are, thankfully, the same. For example -- a wifi router is the same in Europe and the US. The Euro is a way of rolling up currency incompatibilities, although some countries in Europe, Denmark, the UK and Switzerland, aren't on board. But think about all the trouble they've gone to get that compatibility. What if they had been compatible from the start?

Anyway, how does this apply to notification?

Googler DeWitt Clinton asked for Feedback on Friendfeed's proposal for notification, which is different from Google's. I'm already confused! Both of them are different from the method which is now almost ten years old (and deployed in every blogging app and CMS out there).

I make the same suggestion to them that I made to the IETF when they were embarking on Atom. I offered that they should start with RSS 2.0 and change whatever they felt they can't live with, and document their rationales. They didn't take my advice, so now we're in this silly situation where there are two names for everything. What RSS calls an <item>, Atom calls a <froofraw> (or whatever, I can never remember).

2003: Prior art as a design method.

So, if you're working on notification, I suggest starting with pinging with changes.xml as your output, and then change whatever you feel you can't live with, and document your rationales. That way what you end up with will be minimally different from what's already out there, and future implementers won't curse us for not having the sense to have one way to do things. (That's right, they'll curse all of us, they won't know or care who went first.)

Now, if forced to make a choice, I'd probably go with Pubsubhubbub for three reasons: 1. It's at least XML, even if it's not RSS. 2. They say they'll support RSS, giving a sense of being in touch with the world they live in. 3. It's Google, so they have a certain amount of sway with users and developers. However, neither of them adopts the prior art method of format design outlined above. If either of them did, I wouldn't even have to make a choice.


Last update: Saturday, July 11, 2009 at 2:36 PM Pacific.

A picture named dave.jpgDave Winer, 54, pioneered the development of weblogs, syndication (RSS), podcasting, outlining, and web content management software; former contributing editor at Wired Magazine, research fellow at Harvard Law School, entrepreneur, and investor in web media companies. A native New Yorker, he received a Master's in Computer Science from the University of Wisconsin, a Bachelor's in Mathematics from Tulane University and currently lives in Berkeley, California.

"The protoblogger." - NY Times.

"The father of modern-day content distribution." - PC World.

One of BusinessWeek's 25 Most Influential People on the Web.

"Helped popularize blogging, podcasting and RSS." - Time.

"The father of blogging and RSS." - BBC.

"RSS was born in 1997 out of the confluence of Dave Winer's 'Really Simple Syndication' technology, used to push out blog updates, and Netscape's 'Rich Site Summary', which allowed users to create custom Netscape home pages with regularly updated data flows." - Tim O'Reilly.

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