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Everything is dead
By Dave Winer on Wednesday, January 05, 2011 at 9:14 AM.

A picture named 2unnel.gifThis is scary, but I'm beginning to become numb to the concept of RSS being dead. I read this piece by Mathew Ingram at GigaOm and found myself nodding my head all the way through, even though its title put the name RSS near the word "dead." permalink

His premise is that HTML is dead in exactly the same way that RSS is (according to the guys who are spinning that idea). But they fail to notice that everything is dead the same way RSS is, including their employers, their jobs, their way of life, etc etc. Because things change, and first visions of new things, even things that become wildly popular, are usually wrong.  permalink

Jay just got an iPad on Sunday. This was really interesting. He was showing me all the ways the iPad is broken. Yup. These are things I forgot when I learned how to work around them. Again, first views of things usually don't match up with our eventual view. And sometimes the first view is more accurate, not less. permalink

When HTML first came out, lots of people thought the thing to do was to give everyone a WYSIWYG editor and have them create web pages with such a tool, as if the page were somehow central to what the web is. They saw the problem as People Want To Edit HTML, so they aimed to make it easy, and they did.  permalink

So the big products of the early web were editors that ran on your desktop. A product called PageMill was sold to Microsoft and became FrontPage. Macromind developed Dreamweaver. There was a company called NetObjects with a product called Fusion. Probably quite a few others. But a few short years later, these products were "dead."  permalink

Same thing happened with RSS. Wasn't my fault, I told the developers of the second wave of RSS readers they were wrong to view RSS as email. News is more like a stream that you flip through. Skimming the headlines, reading a few lead paragraphs, and reading the full text of even fewer. Compare this to email, which has the presumption (false) that you're going to read and understand every word of every message sent to you. Completely different things. As different as Hey Jude is from a single episode of FreshAir. One has permanence, is almost an institution. And the other is an episode. Yet both are MP3 files. See how that works?  permalink

News is episodic. Each story has small value. It's the rush of news. No story is an institution. permalink

So, I reasoned, RSS readers should model the rush of news and take advantage of our brain's ability to skim. But programmers don't think this way, and I guess most programmers aren't news junkies. Because it was impossible to get through to them. No matter, the market eventually decided. A lot of wasted time, which sucks, but hardly the end of RSS. We're constantly building new things with RSS. All you have to do is open your eyes, which is something most tech reporters are unwilling to do. Always has been thus, in my experience. permalink

Mathew asked if he gets a statue or some frequent flyer miles for my expressed seal of approval. I said no, but you do get Respect. permalink

Seems I heard that somewhere. :-) permalink

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