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Where we're at with rssCloud

Friday, September 25, 2009 by Dave Winer.

A picture named ninja.gifA brief report on where we're at with rssCloudLand as September winds down.  Permalink to this paragraph

It's been a great summer. In July, we got busy rebooting the RSS cloud, based on the experience in 2001 and 2002, with lessons learned, and a lot more success than we had seven years ago. Permalink to this paragraph

Based on the walkthrough document, the community has shipped multiple implementations of all three sides of the interface. Permalink to this paragraph

1. There have been many implementations of the cloud software, including my own rssCloud.root and wordpress.com and the plug-in that turns every standalong WordPress installation into an rssCloud server. Total number of installations: millions.  Permalink to this paragraph

2. Lots of feeds and authoring systems numbering in the millions. Example real-time podcast feeds and photo feeds. Permalink to this paragraph

3. Not so many aggregators. So far only two -- first my own River2 and LazyFeed. There many more on the way. I hope one or two Twitter clients will ship rssCloud support in the month of October.  Permalink to this paragraph

What next?  Permalink to this paragraph

I have four immediate priorities: Permalink to this paragraph

1. Features that will make it possible for Google Reader and other large scale aggregators to wire into rssCloud. These are technical features, to most users they are details, but nonetheless are important. It must be possible for a server to register a notification request using a domain name, on behalf of another server. And along with this feature, most developers believe a stronger verification process is needed. I am one of them. Yet it must remain simple to implement, so the barrier to entry is as low as possible. There have been proposals in both these areas.  Permalink to this paragraph

2. Long-polling proxies for clients running on systems behind NATs or firewalls. This technology is well-understood, and a number of developers are working on solutions. I hope when code emerges, there will be an effort to make their interfaces compatible, so maximum interop can be achieved. Permalink to this paragraph

3. Conventions for naming, so that URLs can be mapped to names that are managed by DNS, the naming system of the Internet itself. I've done a simple experiment in this area to get myself educated on the issues and learn how users and developers see this.  Permalink to this paragraph

4. A high-level user-oriented vision statement for rssCloud with a roadmap for developers and marketers. My goal is to create an open loosely-coupled message network that achieves more or less what Twitter does, but in a decentralized manner. It must use the architecture of the Internet to achieve what Twitter achieves in a centralized fashion. No doubt there will be tradeoffs, some things the open network will do better, and other things that the centralized one will. This is similar to previous layers of the Internet, where systems like AOL and CompuServe provided more sophisticated features, where the World Wide Web was more low-tech, more basic. Both ways of doing things have advantages and survive to this day. Permalink to this paragraph

Comments, questions and suggestions are welcome. 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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