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What does rssCloud mean to you?

Tuesday, September 08, 2009 by Dave Winer.

Okay I think it's time to explain what rssCloud means to people who use the web, as opposed to people who create it at a technical level. Permalink to this paragraph

The idea is to deliver news faster, without relying on a single company to do all the work.  Permalink to this paragraph

Until now you could have one or the other, but not both. Permalink to this paragraph

You could have the news delivered via RSS, but if you wanted it fast you had to go to Twitter or Facebook or FriendFeed. Permalink to this paragraph

The problem with going to a company is two-fold: 1. The company might not be able to handle it. 2. The company might screw with it. Permalink to this paragraph

We saw both 1 and 2 with Twitter. Last summer they had trouble keeping the system up. They still "fail whale" a lot, and it could get worse, if they grow. Certainly if they grow to a billion users and become the "pulse of the planet" -- as they've said they want to. There are other reliability problems, like no good record of what's posted on Twitter. And all the trouble scaling has meant that new features show up in the center at a snail's pace, while the pace of innovation at the edges is furious, and limited by the slow growth at the center. Permalink to this paragraph

But even worse is that the company has not stayed out of the editorial flow of the community. At the beginning of the year, the basic metric, the Twitter equivalent of page-rank was follower count. Then all of a sudden some user's counts starting going up at an incredible rate. It came out that the company was recommending these people to new users. They were giving this flow to their friends, and to reporters who cover them, but not to people they don't know or don't like. They've even taken it away from reporters who have written stories they don't like. This is totally unacceptable, we've said so repeatedly. They ignore the concern.  Permalink to this paragraph

Think about it another way. Imagine if Larry and Sergey's friends pages always showed up at the top of search results on Google, even when their pages had nothing to do with what people were searching for. Now you understand how un-Internet-like this is. Permalink to this paragraph

People say they're entitled to do this, and I suppose they are. But then we are entitled to take this idea and use the Internet to implement it, instead of all relying on a company. Permalink to this paragraph

That's how a techie like me, who loves the open-ness of the Internet, thinks. Permalink to this paragraph

To understand why, you have to understand that in 1993, I gave up on tech, because it was so utterly messed up by big companies fighting to control the users. A guy like me couldn't make software and sell it, because they were always screwing with us. They weren't doing it on purpose, they just didn't care. If you said "You should care" they'd call you a utopian or Mother Teresa and laugh. But in the end they got screwed by their own screwing around. The Internet straightened it all out, and newly charged with optimism, I learned something important. The tech world is cyclic. First it's wonderful, then it gets f*cked, then it gets wonderful again. Permalink to this paragraph

Our goal with rssCloud is to take what was wonderful about Twitter, that got f*cked by their Suggested Users List and the Fail Whales, and make it wonderful again. Permalink to this paragraph

I want everything fast with no company in the middle. That doesn't mean Twitter goes away, not at all. They just have to stop being in the middle.  Permalink to this paragraph

That's what rssCloud is about. Fast news updates without the company in the middle. Small pieces loosely joined.  Permalink to this paragraph

PS: And now maybe you understand why there was so much crap flying around RSS for the last few months. It always happens when the dam is about to break. No big deal. Just go right through it. The bark is worse than their bite. 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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Last update: 9/8/2009; 11:03:24 PM Pacific. "It's even worse than it appears."

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