Syndication and Aggregation
Thursday, June 24, 1999 by Dave Winer.
A beautiful party last night. Wired hosts. Po Bronson signs his new book. The venue, my favorite Silicon Valley hangout, Buck's. Yes, it's party season in the valley. It's summer. The weather is so disarming. So is the cry of love! (Oh Bonnie.)
The people were so beautiful last night! I love parties with happy people. After the party a small group gathered at my house, I only knew a few of them, but it turns out that some of them knew me. One of them, a business development guy, a hired gun for big companies, is a regular reader of Scripting News, the website I run. He's a smart guy. We cross paths in other contexts, but I had no idea that such a person would be a regular at my website.
It's for people like this that I do Scripting News. I look for cross-over. We already have an international technical audience. As a group we can tackle almost any problem involving bits and nets. It's an embrace of the Microsoft spirit of loving a technical challenge, without the killer bite. It's been my bet that the net can do positive, even loving things, without sacrificing the technology. So far so good.
Now, I can explain why I wanted to participate in the BucksWoodside.Com site. It's part of the cross-over. Buck's is our attempt to understand the culture of the financial community in Silicon Valley.
I want the rewards to flow both ways. Our scripting guys do great technology, all over the world, 7-by-24. This is what the financial people are looking for -- we want to learn to speak their language so we can do great business together. Last night's party was a step in that direction.
I'm looking for ways to create convergence. To make communication grow and flow, and get new ideas brought to fruition faster and faster. And then faster!
While I was writing this piece, my partner Jamis MacNiven was writing up his recount of last night's party:
The best line: "I felt like I was living in NYC once again." What a great way to sum it up. That's what I'm looking for from Silicon Valley too. So many great people live here now. We need more parties, where the person standing next to you turns out to be someone who you can be creative with. Last night's party was a milestone in that way.
Hey the same thing is happening on the web!
Every day more people and organizations start news sites like Buck's and Scripting News. These news sites are also known as "weblogs."
There are all kinds of weblogs, some covering the MP3 music world, others for Linux and open source development. Wired News is a news site, as is The Motley Fool, Linux Today and Mozilla.Org. The list goes on and on. Tomalak's Realm, XML.COM, CamWorld, Robot Wisdom, Internet Alchemy. A Boy and His Basement and PyrAlert. I can't drop all the names in a DaveNet. There are too many!
Lately there's been a wave of standardization in this world. The hot weblogs are supporting various XMLizations, one proposed by Netscape, and one proposed by my own company, UserLand.
There are sure to be other syndication formats that follow. The one thing they have in common is that our aggregation server, My.UserLand.Com, can read them. Once an hour our robot visits all the registered sites, we read their XML, and compile the articles into a database of stories. That's called Aggregation, it's the other side of syndication.
It was a little bit of a puzzle to figure out what to do with all the news the robot was gathering! There's so much of it. But it's easy to turn an embarassment of riches into a dynamic fast-changing news site, which is what the readers of news sites want.
Every hour we list all the new stories and point to the sites that generated the links. We share the flow. If you like what one site is saying, you know where to go for more. There's the motivation for registering your XMLization with our aggregator. Every interesting link is a subtle advertisement saying "Come here, I have something interesting for you." That's why it's a win-win. One site aggregates it all, and each site offers focus, and the things that come along with it, community, development, creativity and fun.
Some organizations use syndication technology to scatter stories all over the net. This is a fine idea, for sure, but we're zigging to that zag. I like to check the net every hour for news. Now I have a service that does it for me. It brings the stories to my desktop.
Hey who said Push was a bad idea? Not I.
In the meantime, happy party season..
See you at the next one!