It’s just data

Reaching consensus

Clay Shirky: ...Twenty minutes later, one person stands up and gets their coat, and what happens? Suddenly everyone is getting their coats on, all at the same time. Which means that everyone had decided that the party was not for them, and no one had done anything about it, until finally this triggering event let the air out of the group, and everyone kind of felt okay about leaving.  This effect is so steady it's sometimes called the paradox of groups

One such event seems to have occurred over the past 48 hours.

I'd love to hear why people like that name ("Atom"), I originally voted for it to push consensus but later changed my mind.

Those of you who do like "Atom", feel free to iterate why it's a good name and why it's better than Necho, Sygnal, Spark or Lokahi. Or are everybody just voting for "Atom" to get this thing over with, if so, why not vote for a name with better qualities (such as one of the ones I mentioned)?

Posted by Tomas at

It's not Pie, it's not Echo, it's not Not-Echo

It seems that the-project-to-end-all-syndication-wars has finally gone and gotten itself a new name. The new name seems to be  Atom—so now you all can look forward to atomizing your sites.... [more]

Trackback from Virtuelvis


One of the issues I have with Atom is that it is very close to AtomZ, a company which makes a content publishing system called AtomZ Publish. I'm afraid that by using this name, we may end up in a "trade dress" kind of situation in the future.


Posted by Tristan Louis at

The Emperor's New Clothes

It looks like consensus is building behind Atom. So, I've gone ahead and changed this blog to support the flavor "atom" instead of "necho".... [more]

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I haven't cast a vote for any name yet, and while Atom isn't necessarily great, I think it's better than the alternatives you list.

Necho - Unless you know the history of echo (which will be very few if/when this new thing gets widespread), it will be read at "netcho" and not "nekko". all the echo-like names should have just been removed from the list.

Sygnal - Just replacing the i in signal with a y seems silly. Why not just use Signal?

Spark - Spark is okay and fits about the same as Atom. It also has some quasi-scientific connotations, so if you like spark, why not atom?

Lokahi - I don't know why this was even proposed. If you have to explain what the word means, you've already done too much. It's not simple.

Well.. he asked. ;)

Posted by Bill at

Could there possibly be a more bikeshed discussion than naming something? I'm just glad that people seem to have reached consensus -- anything that won't end up in litigation is fine as far as I'm concerned.

Posted by Rafe at

Tomas: You ask why so many people have shifted votes to Atom.

For me it wasn't about loving Atom to death.

As the submitter of Spark, I originally intended it as an example of my suggested naming guidelines, which have since become a page of their own in the wiki. I was hugely surprised when Spark started picking up steam and crept into the top 3.

So, why shift a vote towards Atom? Because Necho was in the lead, Lokahi was picking up votes, and most importantly of all: Both Necho and Lokahi fail more of the naming guidelines than I could possibly imagine. As I said in my wiki change comment: Necho and Lokahi need to die. I simply needed to help take the steam out of them, even at the cost of my own submission. Yes, I care about the project being well-named more than I care whether or not its a name I suggested.

Now, as for Atom, Spark, and the like: The process of establishing a name is far from over. Atom (and Spark), while catchy, has more Google hits and commercial name collision than I care to mention.

We need to get down to a top 3 (or thereabouts) and then evaluate them for collisions. And now we come to the crux of the matter: I shifted one of my votes to Atom so that by the time such a short-list is created there is a better chance that neither Necho or Lokahi will be in it, otherwise one of them will win when Atom, Spark, and others like them get shot down due to collisions.

At that point I'd much rather see people work up and evaluate derivatives of Atom (e.g. Atomic, Atomik, Atomick, etc.) than settle on Necho of Lokahi.

Posted by Jeremy Gray at

Bill: I think the Y in Sygnal gives it a mnemonic quality. But, "Signal" works for me, too.

I don't not-like Atom per se, but as far as I can tell the major reason for picking that name is that people want this to be over with. I'm not sure that's a very good reason to pick that specific name.

IMO, "Atom" (in English) has a bit of an abrupt ending, phoenetically, unlike all of the other examples. The emphasis is on the first letter, which makes it more awkward to say than, for instance, Necho or Sygnal (Lokahi is a bit awkward to say, too).

But, most importantly, "Atom" is too specific. Sygnal [signal] can be many types of communication, whereas an Atom is an Atom is an Atom.

I'm sure some think that the name of the format/api is relatively insignificant and that is why they're so eager to move on. But keep in mind, changing a technical detail of a spec is easier to get away with than changing the name.

Is rushing to a name with ostensibly few qualities a good idea?

Posted by Tomas at

More than to rush for a specific name, maybe we should try to reach consensus on the ProjectNamingGuidelines and thereby eliminate the names who do not qualify?

Posted by Tomas at

I'm not particularly keen on Atom, but none of the other top runners seem particularly outstanding, and some certainly do have more failings. I think it's about time we settled on a name, to allow the evangelists to dust off their robes and get preaching. So I'm grabbing my coat.
Atom +1.

Posted by Danny at

Like Jeremy, I think many are choosing Atom over anything else, just to get Necho and Lokahi out of the running, which I think is a good thing.

Personally, I don't think Atom or Spark are much better that anything else that's been proposed. I think a acronym would probably be a better solution than any name, common or obscure. Heck, it works for just about everything else out there: RSS, XML-RPC, CSS, RDF, SOAP, HTML, etc..

How about MDSF (MetaData Syndication Format), CSF (Content Syndication Format), or WSF (Weblog Syndication Format)? If you choose a good acronym, name collision would be minimal or non-existent, and it would fit in well with all the other formats and APIs out there.

Posted by Bill at

Bill: Acronyms are definitely better for avoiding name collisions, as one could easily argue that most regular words, Atom, Spark, and others included, have long since been snagged up by every marketer out there and stuck to product and company names left, right, and centre, but one point does need to be made about going the harder route and trying to find a real word (even one spelled like Sygnal) instead of an acronym: they are much more easily usable by the public at large. That, and it eliminates the potential for any "RDF Site Summary" vs. "Really Simple Syndication" bs.

Posted by Jeremy Gray at

I haven't voted on any of the leading names (having posted a proposal of my own, Kagami, it seems inappropriate somehow), but Atom or Spark sound vastly better to my ear than Necho or Lokahi.

The name guidelines as they stand seem pretty good. The arguments against Atom are fair, but no name will be perfect.

Echo was such an excellent name. Pity it's out.

Posted by Adam Rice at

"Atom" reaching critical mass?

Sam seems to be back from his Portland (mis?)adventure, and points out that there's been a major swing over at ProjectNamesTopVotesSoFar, with the top runners currently being : Atom - 16 votesNecho - 8 votes Spark - 8 votes (not......

Excerpt from Formerly Echo at

I totally agree with all of Jeremy's points, and want to clarify a few items. One of the things we're naming here (and hopefully this will be clearer in the future) is a user experience. Average users aren't familiar with the concept of syndication or aggregation, let alone APIs that let you post from applications or devices.

The name (and yes, sadly, EchoEnabled was the best one we've had so far) has to indicate "these things are connected and sharing my ideas/thoughts/photos/etc. just works". Think of your parents or siblings who don't follow weblogs, and how they will find out that a site will just work with AOL NewsReader or that it will just work if they want to post with their new digital camera to their weblog.

Acronyms are the wrong answer. There's nothing more user-hostile or unfriendly and confusing. I know what almost all the acronyms mean, and when I buy a digital camera or a PDA, I skip over them. Imagine what those look like to people who know nothing of technology. On the other hand, if my mom sees "Bluetooth" on the box for her cell phone, or sees the little logo, she knows that she can iSync the phone numbers with her (theoretical) Mac.

Don't get hung up on the name Bluetooth, it's just an example, but let's learn the lesson here. Every name has conflicts. The only ones that are even remotely credible to take to a consumer audience (and understand, personal publishing is going to be used by that audience very, very soon) are Atom and Spark. We have a massive education task in teaching average users about:

(1) weblogs/journals as a publishing format
(2) the concept of site or information syndication and aggregation
(3) the concept of authoring content for weblogs/journals through other devices and applications via an API

If we add a fourth educational requisite of an obscure name or complex acronym, we're damning ourselves to obscurity.

Finally, a measure of respect. I'd seen some things pop up and disappear on the naming pages on the wiki, and it occurs to me that none of the excellent technical contributors to this spec would expect to have their insights questioned by a marketer. Let's make sure the same respect is extended the other way, since there are people who will probably contribute who are domain experts in branding, etc. Someone disagreeing with you on a naming strategy is not a personal affront, it's usually either personal taste or a market-oriented decision, and don't take it personally.

Posted by Anil Dash at

approaching atom? [more]

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Naming and the User Experience

Anil Dash adds a comment regarding the choice of name (Atom is now the leading choice by 19 to 8 votes). His basic point is that we need an end-user friendly name (so the acronyms so beloved of developers are......

Excerpt from Formerly Echo at

I definitely agree about avoiding acronyms. Remember that most non-technical people see technical terms written much more often than they ever have occasion to hear them spoken. So inevitably a lot of people won't even get the letters in the right order. I can't count the number of times someone has asked me something like "Do you know HMTL?" or "Why can't I open this PFD file?"

If anything, it should be a common word that's also an acronym, like SOAP. For instance, SCENE: Syndicated Content for Everyone (Not Echo).

Hey, that's not so bad, actually. It would also give us "Scenedicate" as a verb...

Posted by Kevin Shay at

Scene.. I dig that!

Posted by Tomas at

Christian Romney

+1 scene. Introduce it on the wiki and see what becomes of it.

Message from Christian Romney at

OK, I stuck it on at the very end, for whatever it's worth. Probably a little late in the game, but we'll see...

Posted by Kevin Shay at

Pie/Echo Name Consensus

Consensus is being formed on a new name for Pie and the format formerly known as Echo. AtomReason: NoneMeaning: NoneIt's just a name. I like it already....

Excerpt from iBLOGthere4iM at

In regards to Sygnal (or Signal) why not STN for "Signal to Noise" or perhaps S2N? For that hip new look... Or maybe STAN it we want an actual word. Hmmm, perhaps we should just named it SAM?

Posted by pete at

Riffing on "spark" last night I thought, how about "spork" which captures the dual nature of serving and consuming the feeds... or just "spoon" so we could say we have a spoonfeed. Maybe there is a spoon...

Posted by xian at

I've removed my vote for Atom.  It clearly fails the principle of "float a proposal, if several people agree and there's no major disagreement, go for it."

Whether or not the next name picked will have people coming out of the woodwork with major disagreements is an unknown, but simply an unknown.  Several of the trademark arguments against Atom are even stronger than for Echo.

Posted by Ken MacLeod at

Proposed Names for the New Project

I liked Atom just fine but, geewhiz, name the damned thing something, already. This is rocking on way too long.... [more]

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