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RSS 0.90, 0.91 Moving to RSS Advisory Board

Netscape announced this afternoon that the first two versions of RSS, RSS 0.90 and RSS 0.91, are moving to the RSS Advisory Board.

The RSS specification documents, DTDs, and help files for the first versions of RSS (v0.9, v0.91) are being moved to RSSBoard.org, where they will be hosted by the RSS Advisory Board in perpetuity. Netscape will continue to host these files (via redirect) on the My Netscape domain (my.netscape.com) until August 1st, 2008.

Netscape launched RSS on March 15, 1999, with the My Netscape Network and an RSS 0.90 specification written by Ramanathan Guha. Four months later, RSS 0.91 was launched with a specification written by Dan Libby. Five years after revolutionizing the web browser, Netscape sparked another revolution on the web with XML-based syndication.

All websites that produce RSS 0.9 or RSS 0.91 feeds will need to either convert to using the current standard (RSS v2.0), or if desired, convert their v0.9/v0.91 feeds properly using this guide, provided by the RSS Advisory Board, by August 1st.

The board will ensure the continued availability of the specifications and the RSS 0.91 DTD (document type definition), which still receives four million hits a day from XML parsing software. We could use some advice from Apache admins on how to serve a file that often without reducing the HTTP server to a smoldering heap of rubble.

In the eight years since Netscape published the first RSS specification, the format has become as essential to the web as HTML, XHTML and CSS. By my estimation, the specs and related DTDs have been requested from Netscape's servers more than one billion times.

As the current chairman of the board, I'd like to thank Guha and Libby for their work on the first two versions of RSS and more recent Netscape employees Chris Finke and Tom Drapeau for helping this transition. Though most RSS feeds use the current version today, thousands of feed publishers continue to employ RSS 0.9 and RSS 0.91. Long after Netscape closed the first incarnation of the My Netscape Network and had no business interest in RSS, the company contributed to the success of web syndication by keeping these documents online.

-- Rogers Cadenhead

Small Donations, Loosely Justified

I'm the example in a new BusinessWeek article on small donors in political campaigns, who apparently have less impact than we think:

Rogers Cadenhead wants to have an impact on this year's Presidential election. So he's heeded online appeals for contributions, making $25 to $40 donations to candidates including Senator Barack Obama (D-Ill.), former Senator John Edwards (D-N.C.), and Representative Ron Paul (R-Tex.). "The allure of one-click participation in democracy was too hard to resist," says Cadenhead, a 40-year-old computer book author and the publisher of the liberal-leaning political blog the Drudge Retort. "I'm not the kind of person who gets called for real donations."

Cadenhead and millions of individuals like him are nonetheless being courted by the candidates. Presidential hopefuls are grabbing their attention -- and contributions -- with donation requests embedded in blogs, e-mails, social networks, YouTube (GOOG) videos, and their own Web sites. ...

Small donors like Cadenhead are undeterred in making political contributions, no matter how small. Individual donations are keeping some candidates like Kucinich from dropping out of the race altogether. For many candidates, even a small donation is an indication of support at the polls, where it matters most. "It's an easy way to vote early," says Cadenhead.

In describing my donations to reporter Catherine Holahan, it was hard not to sound insane. I've given $25 to Edwards and Obama, $50 to Paul and $250 to the candidate I finally settled on: Joe Biden (sigh). That last amount grew from $25 to the federal-matching maximum after a Biden volunteer called me the day before the Iowa caucus. When your candidate concedes before your donation clears the bank, it's probably a bad investment.

Since giving my first political donation to Howard Dean in 2004, I've decided that an early contribution of $25 is a good way to start learning about a candidate. Give a politician a dollar and you never get rid of 'em. I get regular emails from Obama, his wife Michelle and Ron Paul along with text messages from Edwards before each debate.

Holahan first contacted me by email, so my server logs reveal how she found me for the story. She searched Google Monday for i gave $25 to ron paul.

Giving money to Paul was more fun before I knew that he published a newsletter that earned nearly $1 million a year in the early '90s and contained articles that expressed loathsome prejudice towards gays and blacks. Even if you believe that Paul did not write the articles himself, that means they were either written with his approval (just as bad) or completely without his knowledge.

That last possibility, the most generous to Paul, demonstrates staggering blindness to what underlings were doing in his name -- one of the worst flaws a president could have.

10 Years Ago Today, Matt Drudge Broke the News

On Jan. 17, 1998, Matt Drudge reported that Newsweek had spiked Michael Isikoff's story about President Clinton's sexual affair with Monica Lewinsky, the first shot in the war between the corporate and cautious culture of mainstream journalism and the completely bonkers blogosphere.

Six weeks later, I registered Drudge.Com. It's hard to believe that Matt Drudge remains one of the most important journalists in the U.S., 10 years after he nabbed somebody else's scoop. I wish someone had told me, when I was enrolling in journalism school, that the road to becoming my generation's Edward R. Murrow passed through the CBS gift shop.

In honor of this milestone, the Retort has brought out its version of the siren: News Alert Banana.

News Alert Banana

As much as I'm loathe to give a compliment here, every news blogger and online journalist is an heir to Drudge, who realized before anyone else that all journalists are created equal on the browser's address bar.

So happy Monicaversary, everyone! I trust that you don't need to be told how this anniversary should be celebrated.

Sterling Camden, Simone Carletti Join RSS Advisory Board

Two new members have joined the RSS Advisory Board: Sterling "Chip" Camden and Simone Carletti.

Camden's a software developer who covers technology and programming topics for TechRepublic. He also writes about RSS frequently on his weblogs Chip's Quips and Chip's Tips.

A commercial programmer since 1978, Camden has created the OPML Blogroll and OPML Browser widgets for the WordPress weblog publishing platform. He's also a supporter of the yearly Providing Autism Research golf tournament in Pleasanton, Calif.

The first Italian to serve on the board, Carletti is a technical manager at Altura Labs and a contributor to the instructional web publishing site HTML.it. He specializes in RSS-related issues.

Carletti's also the author of the Italian translation of the RSS specification.

Blade Runner Can't Compete in Olympics

When he was 11 months old, Oscar Pistorius had both his legs amputated below the knees because of a congenital condition. Now 21, Pistorius is a sprinter who runs on artificial legs called blades, as he did in July at the Golden Gala competition.

Pistorius can't compete in this year's Summer Olympics in Beijing because those blades have been ruled an unfair advantage. It's a shame he won't be allowed to compete. Seeing him round the turn in the 400 meters and take off, moving at world-record speed on metal prosthetics, accomplishes a feat that's rare in this world: Redefining the possible.

Ron Paul and the Electability Question

During last night's South Carolina Republican debate, Fox News moderators were tough on Rep. Ron Paul, most notably when journalist Carl Cameron asked him an incredibly derisive question:

Congressman Paul, yet another question about electability. Do you have any, sir? There's always the question as to whether or not you are, in fact, viable. Your differences with the rest of the Republicans on this stage has raised questions about whether or not you can actually win the Republican nomination, sir.

Leaving aside the issue of whether journalists have any business deciding which candidates are "electable," Paul got twice as many votes as Rudy Giuliani in Iowa and five times as many as Fred Thompson in New Hampshire. Yet Fox News did not pose that question to either Giuliani or Thompson, and I don't think it ever would.

After Cameron's question was met with loud ridicule from the crowd and his fellow candidates, Paul provided the night's best moment.

There's a furious debate going on at the Drudge Retort about bigoted newsletters published in Paul's name. I have concerns that he's not the steadfast old-school Republican he seems to be, but instead belongs to the angry hard-right fringe.

But last night, as he's done many times before, Paul held his party to account for straying so far from its principles. Crazy borrow-and-spend military adventurism has taken hold of the GOP to such a degree that ideals once solidly in the Republican mainstream are openly mocked by its most popular leaders.

I think the primary attraction of Paul is that he's a politician who won't sacrifice his ideals to please voters. If that approach is unelectable, we're in a lot of trouble.

Hail to the Racial Slur

Joe Gibbs abruptly resigned today, ending his second stint with Washington's football team on significantly less successful terms than the first. In posting the story on SportsFilter and the Drudge Retort, I made the conscious decision to avoid referring to the team's racist mascot name.

Original lyrics to Washington's team song:

Hail to the Redskins
Hail Vic-tor-y
Braves on the Warpath
Fight for old Dixie

Scalp 'em, swamp 'em -- We will take 'em big score
Read 'em, weep 'em, touchdown -- we want heap more
Fight on, Fight on -- 'Till you have won
Sons of Wash-ing-ton. Rah!, Rah!, Rah!

It feels awkward to refer to them simply as "Washington," but it's not that uncommon outside the U.S. where sport franchises aren't so focused on mascots. In the other football, for instance, you'll find pro teams known by their city and the designation F.C. (for Football Club), which is attractive for its plainness. I recently bought a share of AFC Wimbledon, a publicly traded soccer team that began play when its original team moved to another town.

Wandering back to my main point, I'm joining the minority of sports fans who won't play along any more with Washington's use of a contemptible racial slur. I grew up in Dallas as a Cowboys fan, so I'm sure that will be pegged as my motivation, but I'd feel the same way if the ball was on the other foot. Why does the media, so primed for racial slight that an offensive Don Imus rant got his entire show canned, continue to ignore the enthusiastic commercial use of a slur as a trademark in the nation's capitol?