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Setting the record straight
By Dave Winer on Thursday, June 03, 2010 at 4:33 AM.

A picture named bass.jpgI don't know Josh Fraser, so I'm going to assume he's well-intentioned. But this tweet from him represents something all-too-common. People spin stuff to make it look like corporate-owned technology is something other than what it is. permalink

Here's what actually happened when I decided to implement PubSubHubBub. At first I was enthusiastic, and said so -- until I saw that it had no support for RSS. It was all about managing realtime updates for Atom feeds. It said so in the spec, and there was no indication that they planned to change it. In fact, it said quite the opposite. The authors didn't see any reason to implement support for RSS.  permalink

At that point I knew I wasn't going to implement it, because I don't have any code that generates Atom feeds, and I don't plan to write any. I do have code that parses them. There's enough Atom-formatted content out there that you have to. So I do. But I have a choice in what I transmit, so I use RSS 2.0. I know that every aggregator supports it, so I'm on solid ground in that choice. permalink

Am I wrong to think that PubSubHubBub comes from Google? Well, I'm sure there are other people writing stuff that works with it, people who don't work for Google. But if there were going to be a major change in direction in PSHB, it would have to come from Google. Conversely, if you and I got together and decided that PSHB should fully embrace RSS, we'd find ourselves discussing this with Google people. Whether it happened or not, that decision would be made by people who work at Google. You decide whether that means it comes from Google or not. I don't care to argue hair-splits. permalink

I was going try to work with them. Vic Gundotra, who I know for many years, before he worked at Google -- was setting up a meeting with the two leads when news of a Google patent on RSS reading lists came out. That reminded me, in very stark terms, how this works. The patent was in an area where I had done a lot of unpatented work. You don't find out about patents for years after they're filed. Has Google filed patents around PSHB? Is the Pope Catholic? It's in Google's nature to claim supposedly "open" technologies as their property. It's much better to use unpatented tech that pre-dates all this stuff. Which is where the <cloud> element in RSS 2.0 comes in.  permalink

Everything that PSHB does can be done with stuff that is prior art for PSHB and therefore in the future will not be subject to control by Google. To me it's a no-brainer to use it. I don't see why anyone else would go differently, unless Google is paying them to, or they don't understand how patents work. Google's fanboys will call this FUD -- which means fear, uncertainty and doubt. It certainly is fear -- sometimes fear is the right thing. There's no uncertainty or doubt because Google does file patents. If they haven't filed any around their work in PSHB they should say so, clearly and unambiguously, in a legally binding way (i.e. a statement from an officer of the company, in writing). Then we can all relax about it. Until then I'm going to assume they have. permalink

Anyway, I'm not nervous about "jumping into bed" with BigCo's, because I don't do it. Life is too short to waste time waiting for a tiger to shed its stripes or for the church to name a non-Catholic Pope. I stay with RSS because it's solid, it works, and no one can tell me I can't use it. permalink

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