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Another brick in the cloud

Thursday, August 06, 2009 by Dave Winer.

Got a couple of interesting calls this morning on the development of rssCloud. The idea is picking up steam. I'm liking it. For a lot of these things this is the second or third time I'm implementing them. That gives a certain confidence that you know how to do it, and know what the pitfalls are, and what challenges are coming down the pike. Permalink to this paragraph

One question comes up a lot -- how do you manage the global namespace in a loosely-coupled 140-character message network.  Permalink to this paragraph

Twitter handles it simply, they have a server at twitter.com and when you give it a username it knows what data it applies to. It doesn't expose the internals. That's different from the Internet's domain name system, that turns a name like google.com, yahoo.com or us.gov into numbered addresses like, and  Permalink to this paragraph

So in a loosely-coupled world how will this work? Permalink to this paragraph

1. We want to map names like jason, guy and carol to URLs like random.com/guy.xml etc, etc. Permalink to this paragraph

2. Probably the way it'll work is there will be a central server run by a foundation that does exactly this mapping and nothing more. It's an identity server. You sign up for a username and password and store one bit of data, the URL of your feed of 140-character messages.  Permalink to this paragraph

3. Another possibility is to borrow the architecture of DNS, and make it a registrar problem. Sign up with Godaddy or Network Solutions or Gandi and create a domain. Now the challenge is to have that name point to a URL instead of a dotted ID. I'll leave that up to the DNS gurus to decide if it's possible or too egregious a hack.  Permalink to this paragraph

4. Yet another possibility is to let twitter.com handle the bootstrap. Conveniently they have space for a URL in each user's profile. If you've got an aggregator and the user says they want to subscribe to someone named pearl, look on Twitter for such a user, get the URL from their profile, read it, and if it's an RSS file with a cloud element, you're home. If not, it's an error.  Permalink to this paragraph

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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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