A note on the RSS/Atom conflict era

8 Apr

It’s been so long since the early days of the blogging technology that I think it’s important for people who were “there” to not let those with big megaphones rewrite history.

Dave Winer was just one of the people involved with feed syndication technology and he created years of drama over an XML format. RSS 2.0 was ambiguously specified and he wanted to prevent even minor updates to retain credit for the mechanism. I can suggest he was motivated by personal reasons because his objections to tiny improvements in the specification made no sense, ever, and because he’s obsessed with receiving credit over various things to this day.

I can’t believe there was so much interpersonal conflict over just making a couple updates so feed parsers could know what to display?

If Tim Berners-Lee had handled HTML like Winer did RSS, he’d have spent the early 90s mad at Marc Andreessen over the <img> tag while the web died and we all ended up using PDFs and Flash over the network.

I don’t know what Winer did before RSS and what he did after it. I know he gets a lot of recognition in the industry, including from people I respect, so he’s probably made some genuine contributions. All I can speak to is the era of RSS/Atom conflict, in which his behavior was pointlessly destructive.

Also see this post from Ewan Spence, which motivated me to finally write this: https://www.facebook.com/ewanspence/posts/10152764973795151

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