mnot’s blog

Design depends largely on constraints.” — Charles Eames

Thursday, 10 July 2003

Too much money, not enough sense

Adam Curry explains how he’s bought placement in RSS aggregators. Trouble is, RSS isn’t universally supported, as evidenced by the echo project, and he feels cheated.

Now, I’d understand this if RSS were a well-defined standard, backed by a broad portion of the industry (although I’d still be inclined to think of other things to do with the cash, but that’s his choice, I suppose). However, it’s not. The politics around RSS are ugly in a spectacular fashion, and it should come as no surprise to anyone that a significant portion of the community has thrown up their hands and said “enough, already!”

Adam isn’t an exception; he’s been on the Syndication list (where a lot of the ugliness has happened) for nearly three years, by my records. Heck, Dave has repeatedly and publicly stated that people are welcome to come up with a new format, as long as they don’t call it RSS. Fair enough.

So, I don’t have much sympathy for someone who invests in the future of a non-standard specification and is disappointed when it isn’t the only contender. There aren’t any guarantees that you’ll end up on the playing field alone at the end of the day (except, perhaps, if you’re Microsoft).

What I really don’t like is Adam using his influence and cash to perpetuate fragmentation in syndication formats. He undoubtedly sees it as saving RSS, but I think that most reasonable people have come to the conclusion that what’s there isn’t worth saving (although we tried).