Re Evan Williams and JSON Feed
Two pieces from the Old School feed that belong in the main Scripting News feed.
by Dave Winer Sunday, May 21, 2017

I'm doing a switchover from the current blogging home page to my new software, which is codenamed Old School. In advance of the switchover I'm doing real writing over there, stuff that belongs in the main Scripting News RSS feed. So I'm going to run a couple of them here in the this post. 

Re the NYT profile of Evan Williams

Re today's profile of Evan Williams and Medium in the NYT.

A few off-the-top-of-my head thoughts...

The best art ignores money. It's driven by the desire of a human to express what's inside. "I am human and I have something to say."

I wish Medium had strived to make crazy-great editing software, and had created a server that they operated for free, and free of advertising, and open source with a liberal license that let others build new kinds of collaborative systems with great editing at its core.

How do you make money from this? We don't have an opinion about that.

Think of it as a way for a man who made billions from the open web to give back. It was never about any individual's greatness or worth, it was and is about our need as a species to apply our collective minds to our evolution. We still have fundamental changes to make for our species to survive.

I'd add that the whole idea of a Great Thinker solving our problems is itself part of the problem. It worked for us until we conquered and controlled nature. Now we have to find a new purpose for ourselves, a new mission. 

Re JSON feed

People have asked what I think of JSON feed...

My longtime friend and collaborator, Brent Simmons, is one of the two guys who designed the format. In fact I am in Seattle right now visiting Brent, talking about another project, though of course we have discussed JSON feed. I knew it was coming. Brent and I emailed about it about a month ago.

My opinion is pretty neutral. Kind of a shoulder shrug. It reminds me of the slogan from Battlestar Galactica. "All of this has happened before and will happen again."

The hype around this effort reminds me of the hype at the start of Atom. Thankfully the personal stuff does not seem to be coming along with it this time.

Is this something we should be focusing on?

I think we have to work on climate change and the fascism that's trying to boot up in the US. Our systems for news suck, and there are obvious ways to improve them if we put our minds to it. And I think a new incompatible feed format not only doesn't move us toward solving those problems, in a very small way (not worth worrying about) it moves us away from solving them. By using bandwidth that could be used to foster working-together, perhaps. By making things that would otherwise interop, not interop.

If developers have a hard time using XML in their apps, if that's the problem, why not attack it right there? Work to make it easier. I work in Node and the browser, and in both places XML and JSON are equally easy to use. The same could be done for any environment. In fact in the browser, XML is integrated deeply into the programming model, because the web is made out of XML.

As a developer of feed reading software, if any new format gains traction, my software will support the format. I don't believe in locking users in or out. So a new incompatible format makes my life slightly more difficult. But once the work is done, it moves out of the way, hopefully never to be thought of again.

As a writer, and developer of feed-creating software I am going to stick with good old RSS 2.0 with the source namespace. It has served me well, and doesn't want for any features. If it did, I would just add them to the namespace.

One more thought, a few years ago we played around with the idea of JSONified RSS, a simple translation of the XML elements and attributes to JSON. Two observations. 1. It didn't invent new names for things that already exist. 2. It didn't catch on.

See my Manifesto for standards-makers for other general thoughts.