Now that I've accomplished something tangible as a member of the RSS Advisory Board -- when the history books are written, let this serve as notice that Rogers Cadenhead authored the RSS 2.0 example file -- I think it's time to reveal my hidden agenda.

I'm finding that I can't talk about RSS or Atom any more without arousing suspicion about my motives.

I joined the RSS board for three reasons, not counting ego gratification:

  1. RSS 2.0 is a simple, successful format that I use all the time as a software developer, Web publisher, and reader.
  2. The RSS board moves stewardship of RSS 2.0 from a benevolent dictatorship towards a more public, participatory model, and I want to support that effort.
  3. RSS has become a significant commercial opportunity -- check out all the text ads when you search Google for "RSS" -- and I'd love to help myself and other people climb aboard that money train.

Note that there's nothing in my agenda about Atom. Though my first response to the initial rumblings about Atom was negative a year ago, now that it's a tangible syndication format and weblogging API spurred towards wide support by early adoption in Blogger and Movable Type, I'm watching their work with interest.

Sam Ruby and the other Atom developers are trying to solve the hardest problems in this area, such as internationalization issues and the consequences of escaped markup. Though I question whether the complexity of some solutions has enough practical benefits -- should any XML dialect care if a text element is escaped with characters or a CDATA block? -- it's educational to watch them make the attempt.

For me, the relationship between RSS 2.0 and Atom is like XML-RPC and SOAP. Most of my programming needs are simple, so I favor the simpler solutions: RSS and XML-RPC. But I'm glad the more complex formats are around, because there might be a point where I need them.

As soon as my current book project has been completed, I'm going to work on a Radio UserLand tool that produces Atom feeds.

-- Rogers Cadenhead

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