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Google and RSS
By Dave Winer on Thursday, March 04, 2010 at 8:17 AM.

A picture named rsspizza.jpgThe first years of Google's existence and the first years of blogging coincide. Google started in 1998, shortly after I started blogging (depending on what you consider the start, which is always a subject of debate). Then blogging begat RSS, and then OPML and podcasting -- and so on. And blogs became influential in Google's ranking algorithms, and we bloggers loved Google, and we gushed over them here in the one and only year we gave awards on Scripting News.  permalink

They were a small company, very excited. Great food in the cafeteria, and our meetings were always interesting, high energy affairs. Coming out of those meetings were a list of ideas that I shared with them and the readers of this blog.  permalink

The most important idea was this -- Google could pay special attention to RSS and OPML files when they encountered them in their indexing of the web. They contained rich data which could be used for two purposes:  permalink

1. To make searches more current, what I called just-in-time, what people are calling realtime now. This has always been a big deal for me. I wanted search to be part of news and that means new -- and the faster the indexing happens, the more useful it is as news. permalink

2. Use OPML to allow anyone to create Yahoo-like directories. Open that process up, let a billion flowers bloom. I suspected there was a lot that could happen with organizing information on the web. The right place to present it, I felt, was in Google, not in a separate directory structure. And with users actively relating topics on the web, that long-term probably could help search engines make sense of the information. Another, more deliberate, form of linking. permalink

Now, in 2010, Google is going to start reading feeds, but if I understand correctly, they're going to ignore the billions of RSS feeds out there, and ask everyone to convert to Atom to get more currency in search. You can imagine that I don't like this. I wouldn't like it even if I didn't play a big role in getting those billions of feeds out there. I wouldn't like because I have thousands of RSS feeds on my servers, and believe me -- they are not changing to Atom anytime in the next few decades. I don't think I'm alone in that. permalink

Now a little preaching. Big companies always feel they can push the rest of us around, but I gotta say -- I've never seen it work. Usually the lesson they learn is that they would be better off if they would just Go With The Flow, and let the users guide them. Nothing wrong with reading Atom feeds, but to ignore RSS, well guys that's just plain dumb.  permalink

Give up the fight Google. You don't have to acknowlege me, but RSS -- that's a force of nature. That's why I did rssCloud -- for you -- to give you the impetus to do what you should have done naturally, support the formats that the users have chosen. It's not too late to get our relationship back on track. I'm not your enemy, I'm just one guy in an apartment in the West Village writing on my blog. I'm not Apple, suing you for patent infringement, or whoever else you are worried about. Worrying about me is a waste of energy.  permalink

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