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RSS is how the news flows

Wednesday, August 26, 2009 by Dave Winer.

To Sam Diaz who says RSS was "a good idea at the time but there are better ways now," I have many things to say.  Permalink to this paragraph

1. People confuse RSS with Google Reader. Let's be clear that there's a difference. Google Reader is an application that reads RSS-formatted data. There are many other applications that read and write RSS. Permalink to this paragraph

2. I think Google Reader was, on the whole, a good thing. It's probably the best reader of its variety. You have to go find the new stuff in Google Reader. I prefer a reader that finds the new stuff for me, and presents it in reverse chronologic order. This is known as a river of news reader.  Permalink to this paragraph

3. Diaz more or less says that's his preference too. Interesting. Permalink to this paragraph

4. My newspaper doesn't tell me how many articles I haven't read going back to the date of my birth. I bet it would be in the millions. Why should I care. This was the worst idea ever in news readers. Permalink to this paragraph

A picture named hair.gif5. The core problem -- so many programmers who write RSS software are not themselves news junkies. If they were they'd know when they got it wrong. News is about what's new! Show me the newest stuff first. Sorry to all the articles I didn't read, maybe in the next lifetime. Permalink to this paragraph

6. He may not use a RSS reader, but the news is still getting to him through RSS.  Permalink to this paragraph

7. If all the RSS on the planet were all of a sudden to stop updating (key point) the news would stop flowing. Any news guy or gal who thinks they could get by without RSS -- think this through a bit more. We all love the Internet, but don't shut off your gas and electric because your computer and router wouldn't work without electricity. Same with RSS and news. RSS is how the news flows, whether you see it or not. If not RSS, something exactly like RSS.  Permalink to this paragraph

8. The Internet is layered. New technology comes on line building on tech that already existed. RSS was like that. It built on XML and HTTP, which built on text and TCP/IP. The new things that Diaz likes so much, in exactly the same way, build on RSS.  Permalink to this paragraph

9. When news authors don't understand how technology evolves, they propagate incorrect notions to everyone else, including would-be inventors, who have to figure it out for themselves, and then convince investors and partners they know what they're doing -- when they just read in ZDNet that things don't evolve at all. So Mr. Diaz does us all a disservice.  Permalink to this paragraph

10. I object when technology writers tell the story of technology incorrectly. People say I should just be happy to see my name in the story, or in this case something that I fathered. No deal. I want the accurate story out there. I want people to understand how technology really works, because that's central to users being empowered by it, instead of being controlled by it.  Permalink to this paragraph

Bonus: Marshall Kirkpatrick, my partner in the Bad Hair Day podcast (tomorrow 7PM Pacific) has his own excellent rebuttal to the Diaz piece. 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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