Examined at the Atomic Level

Isofarro, the publisher of the Isolani weblog, blasts me to atoms for criticizing Google in a newspaper interview, choosing a search-engine friendly headline that will probably do well when old acquaintances look me up on the Web: "Rogers Cadenhead -- a hypocrite?"

The answer to the question is undoubtedly "yes" in many areas, but I don't believe this is one of them.

Isofarro's the second Atom contributor to object to my quote. When the piece ran, Danny Ayers taunted, "do you think people making statements to the press should declare potential conflicts of interest?"

I suspect there would have been more objections if the reporter had quoted more specifically why I threatened to boycott Google. Isofarro and Ayers know me well enough to read between the lines: I'm torqued by the company's decision to make Blogger users pick between Atom and RSS instead of allowing them to use both.

If I were reporting on Google or commercially involved with the company or one of its competitors, there would be conflict-of-interest issues. But I'm not, and I told the reporter that I was a computer book author and Web publisher who works extensively with syndication formats.

I don't think a tinfoil hat is required to object when a giant Internet company favors one protocol over another, especially when it already has the code to support both. That's the full extent of my beef -- it has nothing to do with Radio UserLand's lack of Atom support or enmity towards Atom, though I do envy the coolness of its name.

When the Atom syndication format moves beyond "pre-draft" stage, I will write a Radio tool to support the format if no one else has. I don't want to do any work until its creators have enough confidence in the solidity of their spec to call it a draft or a beta.

Comments

Google's competing with UserLand, but I'm not commercially involved with UserLand. There is no commercial relationship between the company and my publisher.

I don't mind Isofarro's pseudonymity. If I were starting out on the Internet today, I might guard my privacy more closely also to avoid some of the random threats and other weirdness I've received in my inbox over the years.

IIRC, the spec has been labeled a "pre-draft" because the term "draft" has a very specific meaning when applied to the formal standards process used by the IETF.

What should implementers do, though? How close should we expect the current spec to be to the IETF draft?

Here's what I'd like to know. What circumstances DO require a tinfoil hat to complain? This image is captivating, really. Can you visualise it?

A tinfoil hat. I want one.

Rogers -- IMO, implementors should work with the 0.3 pre-draft. It hasn't changed in 6 months, and there's been no indication (that I've seen -- if anyone wants to point out anything to the contrary, please do) that there will be any changes in the feed format independent of the formal standardization process. That gives you [wild-assed guess] 18 months [/wild-assed guess] worth of unchanging, implemented in the wild usage to code for, and a validator to test against.

If this is really about users, then to me the right thing to do is clear -- let them read the feeds. They're out there (millions of them), and they're not going away.

I asked a question - "do you think people making statements to the press should declare potential conflicts of interest?", which I thought was reasonable after Rogers' forceful response to the Guardian piece. As a matter of fact I accept his response entirely.

Isofarro may have a point about the situation being different had Google supported Userland RSS rather than Atom, but that's all very hypothetical.

Glad to hear you'll be writing a bridge for Radio - it's a shame for the end users to lose out because of managerial intransigence.


commercially involved with the company or one of its competitors

Wait, so you're saying Google is not a competitor to Userland? Perhaps you can explain this quote then: Pyra makes Blogger which competes head-on with Manila.

"When the Atom syndication format moves beyond "pre-draft" stage, I will write a Radio tool to support the format if no one else has. I don't want to do any work until its creators have enough confidence in the solidity of their spec to call it a draft or a beta."

Well.

As opposed to the RSS creators who have all the confidence in the world in labelling RSS as one thing or another while it's still an internally inconsistent hack.

Don't get me wrong: run your business however you want, but that rationale is pretty lame

There's no comparison between the situations, Brother. The RSS 2.0 spec has been frozen for years. Atom's still in active, ongoing development towards its first release.

Actually, Rogers, the RSS 2.0 spec has not been frozen for years. It has not changed for 15 months since the reintroduction of the rating element.

I hope this does not mean that the careful review of the "RSS 2.0 specification in its new context" will have to start over.

That rating element is news to me. Thanks for the pointer.

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