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Where is RSS?

Friday, November 20, 2009 by Dave Winer.

A picture named radishSpirit.gifI watched the morning session of TechCrunch's second realtime conference, including the half hour interview with Dick Costolo, the COO of Twitter. Permalink to this paragraph

Of course Mike Arrington asked him the "Is RSS Dead?" question, and thankfully Costolo didn't want to go there. It would be ingracious of him, of course, because he made $100 million with RSS.  Permalink to this paragraph

He said RSS had been "pushed down" the stack, and it was now a protocol like SMTP or HTTP.  Permalink to this paragraph

In a way I agree with him, but only so far. Permalink to this paragraph

RSS was never anything more than a protocol like SMTP or HTTP. So it hasn't gone anywhere. It's still exactly where it has been since 2002, it's part of the fabric of the Internet, and is the standard format for news distribution. We're lucky to have a standard format for that.  Permalink to this paragraph

But... Permalink to this paragraph

Had Arrington asked me the question, I would have answered it differently. Permalink to this paragraph

RSS will form the basis for the open distributed version of Twitter.  Permalink to this paragraph

The loosely-coupled 140-character message network. Permalink to this paragraph

RSS already has everything we need, including a protocol for realtime updates.  Permalink to this paragraph

Further, any vendor of a Twitter client would, imho, be well-advised to spread out to achieve independence from the Twitter company. One way to do that, and they should all do it, is to support Facebook on an equal basis with Twitter. But that isn't enough. They should all make an investment in the open distributed way of doing what Twitter does. What that means is to offer the user the option to create a backup of their tweet stream in RSS, as a publicly-accessible feed. And once there's a base of apps doing that, they should add a feature to subscribe to those feeds.  Permalink to this paragraph

Key point: Once they're there, they can add core features without waiting for Twitter. Permalink to this paragraph

Of course Arrington didn't ask me that question, and that's fine -- that's his prerogative. But there's nothing to stop me from answering it anyway! A picture named sidesmiley.gif 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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