The Quest for the Real Syndication Standard

To be a Six-part series. Two parts completed so far.

In preparing a piece on RSS, I felt I needed to properly understand its roots. The development of the RSS standard may very well be a good case study of how not to go about developing a software standard. But to me, it’s bigger than that. The whole story has a rather Biblical arc to it. As in Genesis, there are two creation stories. A later generation of the standard wrestles with its Creator and triumphs, and is given a new name, Atom. Throughout the story, on archived mailing lists over the web– jealousy! deceit! one-upmanship! oneman-shipup! Divine retribution! (Somebody must have wished for that somewhere). And that’s just within the RSS standard. But I won’t focus on that at all here, that requires much more time and attention than I can give. I’m going to look at RSS and its relationship to its “big brother.” Like Jacob and Esau, the story is ultimately about who enjoys the inheritance.