It’s just data

Setting a few things straight

Dave is providing feedback.  Here's my responses:

Now, onto more general topics.  This is clearly something that I have been working on for quite a while.  In the open.  My first preference was to cleanly specify a profile for RSS.  One that, for example, allows me to specify an author without an email.  I recently indicated that I am still open to the idea.

About a month ago, my interest and activity in this space kicked into high gear.  I started attending weblogging conferences.  My boss and his boss attended ClickZ.  Along the way, I collected contacts, email ids, AIM ids, and phone numbers.

I had dinner with Dave Winer. I have his business card.

I visited JavaOne and met with Sun and O'Reilly to discuss  While there, I took a trip to Google and visited a building numbered pi.

I plan to go to SuperNova, OSCON, and the XML DevCon.

Please lets not start things off by calling this competition.  Is it an accurate label?  Yes.  However, given the RSS 2.0 roadmap, this is the only choice made available to me if want to see forward motion again.

Help me find better choice, and I will gladly choose it.  Until then, I plan to continue to respect the roadmaps.  Both of them.

Dave Winer on Echo

re. Dave's comments at :

he says "...a format to compete with RSS..."  - I would suggest that this is not a good characterization, something like 'supercede' would be better as there is no sense in excluding existing feeds. I think we will still continue to see plenty of RSS 1.0 and 2.0 feeds, but a gradual trend towards the new format.

"1. Please help me get rid of the personality issues." - the new project should be seen as starting with a blank slate, i.e. there aren't any issues to get rid of unless you bring them yourself.

"2. Start an Echo weblog." Not a bad idea, though I'm not sure how the collab side would be handled in practice. Any spare time/space and enthusiasm Sam?!

"3. It should have an Echo feed, asap" So should the Wiki.

"4. I think it's wonderful that it's happening on the Web... But you have to compensate for the fact that there's no single place..."
I take it he means 'single page' (the Wiki is a single place). Providing a feed from the Wiki would sort this.

Posted by Danny at

Dave Winer on Echo

The wiki has a central page -- and an RSS feed -- that lists recently-changed pages and the reasons given for those changes.

Tip for those of you following this on the web: on the RecentChanges page, there is an innocuous-looking link called "Update my bookmark timestamp".  If you click this, it will update the page to show you icons next to pages that have been updated or added since your list refresh.  This is how I always refresh the page, for instance first thing in the morning to see what activity occurred overnight.

Posted by Mark at

First link incorrect?  Points to some conference.  Maybe you meant ?

Posted by Mark at

Mark: fixed.  Thanks!

Posted by Sam Ruby at

It's good to know that you're flexible Sam. I'll give this some thought, and see what comes of it. In the meantime I'm hitting my own reset button and doing some fun programming with the MetaWeblog API and Movable Type, just to remind myself why we do this stuff.

Posted by Dave Winer at


sam ruby has been spearheading a major standardization effort in the blog world recently, and he has this to say...... [more]

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Personally, I agree with Dave. All I would really like to see is a "sanitized" subset of RSS 2.0. A namespace. Plain-text descriptions. No longer let items like pubDate be optional (screw .91x backwards compatibility). Deprecate dumb elements like 'cloud'. And rewrite the spec. Really, something that's mostly backwards compat and can be understood and implemented in 15 minutes. That's what it's all about. Unfortunately, I seem to be in the minority.

Anyways, Echo looks good so far. I wonder, what are your feelings on layering with XML standards like XLink, XML Base and XML Lang? I think that'd be great and would provide a good justification for whole new format. Keep up the good work.

Posted by Bo at

echo and RSS

Sam responds to Dave's comments on Echo in this entry. The discussion has been quite civilized up to this point (although there were some close calls in the last few days) and it's clear where everyone stands. With Echo endorsed at this point by...

Excerpt from d2r at


Thanks for your efforts on this endeavor. I have some questions on issues of control and direction on my weblog. In brief they are:

How exactly does IBM benefit from this-from a business point of view?

Are there dangers in having a single person and company put in so much effort and thereby be afforded a disproportionate degree of control?

If the roadmap does not suggest dropping RSS 9.x, RSS 1.0 and RSS 2.0 at some point in the future, aren't we creating a multiple platform support problem which will negatively affect the smaller software developers?

Have you addressed any or all of Tim Bray's concerns. Specifically looking at the different requirements for "Echo for weblogs" and "Echo for stock quotes, bank balances, news stories etc"?

I think if you deal with these issues up front, there is less of a chance that they will haunt the community in the future.

Thanks again for your efforts.

Posted by Mike Sanders at


An area that I would love to explore is work flows and business processes.  These things matter to IBM customers.  Having done a weblog for 18 months or so, I am convinced the question is every bit as much "how are work flows and business processes going to change because of weblogs" as the other way around, but truth be told, there probably will be equal amounts of both.

Yes, I too would love to see all this done by tightening up the definition of RSS.  Cleaning out the cruft in pretty much the way that Bo describes above.  At the moment, that option appears precluded by the RSS 2.0 Roadmap.  I'm hoping that at some point somebody more creative than I finds a way to put that option back on the table.

Try to look for a heavy hand in the way I have run the wiki.  You won't find it.  It isn't there.  In fact, once we achieve rough consensus and running code, I'd love to hand all of this over to a standards body.

You can quote me on that.

Posted by Sam Ruby at


Handing it over to a standards body as soon as practical makes a lot of sense.

What are you thoughts on Echo replacing the other formats of RSS. Having to support yet another RSS format is as appetizing as support N flavors of Windows.

Posted by Mike Sanders at


I have, reluctantly, put my thoughts together regarding the RSS / Echo debate.  I am a student of the history of the industry and technology and I hope you take the comments in that spirit.  For the sake of the ecosystem many people have worked very hard to develop.


Posted by Paul Philp at

Christian Romney

Why do we continue to discuss RSS vs. Echo? I say we focus on completing the task at hand and developing Echo as set out in the roadmap. This isn't about wresting control over RSS from Dave Winer. Echo is more than a blog format. While it has a great deal of its roots in RSS, it is intended to solve more problems than just namespaces and who the 'boss' is. It can unify APIs and grow to fulfill requirements as yet undreamed of. Please don't let all the naysaying stop the forward progress. If end users adopt Echo (and judging by the early support for the fomat by the companies serving the end users, they will) great. If they don't embrace it, then at least the long list of supporters can benefit from it in some way. Where would we be today it we had stuck with sgml instead of xml? I, for one, hope we can get past this political muck, FUD, and fortune-telling to continue doing what we set out to do. As for who should be leading the charge, be it Sam or Tim, both have equal credbility and integrity in my eyes. To suggest that someone else should be leading this project is, in my opinion, inflammatory and rude. We all owe Sam a debt of gratitude for his patronage of this effort. He is not behaving pedantically, nor do I believe him to be motivated by any self-serving rationale. He's one of the good guys as are the rest of the wonderfully talented folk that have been working on this project. My personal thanks to all of you. 'Nuff said.

Message from Christian Romney at

Thanks for taking on this challenge and blazing a trail for others to follow.  I look forward to helping anyway I can.

Posted by Robert Barksdale at

+1 Christian.

Posted by Timothy Appnel at

Question on the roadmap:
The Roadmap includes the statement 'Build a weblog editing protocol using this syntax (the Echo API).'

I'm curious as to whether it is intentional that the Echo API is defined as being for 'weblog editing' and not (at least potentially) more broadly? I haven't seen an API page yet on the wiki, but I'm curious what you think about a suites approach to the API. I very much like the idea of readers being able to do more than just retrieve a feed over HTTP. An aggregator suite might provide a means of retrieving dynamic feeds, authentication, posting comments, etc. I've read a bunch of comments about how a goal should be to make it really easy to write an aggregator, I'd prefer to see less aggregators with much richer feature sets, rather than a commodity like space where everyone can build a headline viewer (but not much else because they are limited by the interfaces and avalaible data). Just curious...

Posted by Josh Jacobs at

Sorry to interrupt the RSS/Echo discussion, but I can't get over the fact that Google has a building numbered pi. How cool is that. My office is outdated.

Posted by Jorge at

Another +1 Christian. Sam's doing an fantastic job.

Josh is probably right about it being high time to glance towards the API, before anything that might cause problems gets too cooked into the syntax. (I think everything he lists is in scope for discussion).

Posted by Danny at

When techies attack

ECHO or RSS2.0 - who knows/cares...

Excerpt from headshift moments at

Thanks everyone.

FYI, I talk to Tim frequently.  Check Tim's blog and you will see a number of references to these conversations.  If Tim had the inclination and cycles to spare, I'd turn this over in a minute.  Meanwhile, he seems to have confidence in me, and I don't plan to let him down.

In any case, staying the course, focusing on the technical issues, continuing the forward motion as described in the roadmap is the right way to proceed.

Each step, lets checkpoint to see whether there is another opportunity to converge with RSS.  Perhaps we will be pleasantly surprised.

P.S.  Next to the building numbered pi is a building numbered e.

Posted by Sam Ruby at


Please don't throw around politics or FUD. Like most developers out there, I just want to write code. I really couldn't care less about the whole RSS drama thing.


I still maintain that a brand new format isn't needed. RSS is in a very good position right now. It's widely adopted. There are lots of tools. It's recently gotten lots of good press. It has a lot of mindshare. There is really no good reason to throw this all away unless Echo is far, far technically superior. Which it could be, but looking at the Wiki I kinda doubt it.

Still, I will be the first person to declare that RSS 2.0 is not a solid foundation for building syndication technologies. A few things need to be cleared up. This will mean a break in backwards compatibility (ironically, what major version number changes are for) but an RSS 2.1 could easily be mostly backwards compatible. I had really hoped that's what the profile would be but alas.

There really is no compelling reason to ditch RSS. People can go on and on about the permalink/guid confusion but that's hardly a show-stopper and certainly not a reason to kill the format and throw away everything the format has achieved.

Anyways, people seem hellbent on reinventing the wheel since, for some strange reason, reinventing wheels is sexy and fun--and maybe Echo really will be a much better wheel. And I encourage you to stick to the Echo roadmap you've set out for yourself. But before RSS is lost in the frenzy, I'd really like to see some effort made to sanitize the format.

Posted by Bo at

Bo: we are in violent agreement.  I'd love to see RSS put on a solid foundation.  Mostly backwards compatible.  With a version number change.

Let's take a simple example.  You mentioned that earlier that it should have a namespace.  James Snell,  once proposed exactly that.  Nothing more, nothing less.  This was the reaction.

A few months later, similar proposals have been made and not acted on.  I expressed my frustration in here.  It looks like a number of other people are similarly frustrated.

Posted by Sam Ruby at

To reiterate what Sam said, Dave Winer's said it repeatedly and pointed to the same place:

"Therefore, the RSS spec is, for all practical purposes, frozen at version 2.0.1." ... "Subsequent work should happen in modules, using namespaces, and in completely new syndication formats, with new names."

RSS 2.0 is frozen, as-is, and that's how Dave wants his standard to stay. Anything beyond RSS 2.0 needs to respect his roadmap and happen as a new standard.

Posted by Grant Carpenter at

Re: "I'd really like to see some effort made to sanitize the format."

You haven't been paying attention.  We've been trying to do this since before RSS 2.0 even came out.  We initially tried to get Dave to deprecate unnecessary elements in the RSS 2.0 spec itself; he refused.  See$1744

Then we tried to define a strict profile of RSS (think HTML Transitional vs. HTML Strict) that deprecated all the things Dave refused to deprecate.  It didn't catch on.  See

Then we tried again with a profile, and this time it was Dave Winer himself who recommended it.  It went nowhere.  Good set of background links is here, towards the bottom:

Now we have to deal with the whole "funky RSS" FUD, which effectively killed all RSS innovation in namespaces in a flurry of flames and innuendo.  Combined with the fact that the core RSS spec is frozen, that doesn't leave a lot of room for forward motion in RSS.  In fact, it leaves no room at all.  The only chance for forward motion is in a new format.  Sure, that necessitates reinventing the wheel to some extent, but the only alternative is the status quo, which is untenable.

Posted by Mark at

Mark, I think you're indulging in a bit of FUD yourself here in saying that innovation in namespaces is killed.

You came out with guns blazing on that one Mark, there were so many other ways to engage in conversation. As I've said many times before you're a smart guy, and if you wanted to make lemonade from what you saw as a lemon, it would have been easy to do. It still is.

What I wanted, and still want, and I said it publicly, is that where RSS 2.0 has an element in its core, that I would like it if people used the core element instead of using an element in a namespace. There were several reasons for this, mostly thinking about the future and things that are presented as "innovation" whose sole accomplishment and purpose is to raise barriers to entry to the market. Already it's too much work to write an aggregator. As more blogging tools come on the market, unless something is said about this, it will get harder and harder. Compatibility is already being expressed in terms of products, not in terms of formats. Imho, that's BAD.

I also explained today how the Blogger use of RDF in place of RSS concerned me. You'll find that story in another thread here on Sam's weblog.

Posted by Dave Winer at

BTW, to Mark, re forward motion, some people here, notably Sam, are talking about breakage, and that's not forward motion, that's backward motion, and likely to seriously alarm the Mr Safes out there, of which I am one, on that subject.

Posted by Dave Winer at


sam ruby has been spearheading a major standardization effort in the blog world recently, and he has this to say about his motivations: About a month ago, my interest and activity in this space kicked into high gear. I started attending weblogging conferences. far from claiming to have been the inspiration, it is still very nice to think that OSCOM was able to contribute to the drive towards standardization. this is the stuff we are talking about....... [more]

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