Do I care what Apple does with RSS?

A fair number of people are asking me what I think about Apple and RSS, so I might as well put the answer on my blog.

They just made a change, taking it out of the UI of Safari. I’m okay with this because I hated what they were doing with it. Hopefully they will let me look at the feed when I click a link to it, instead of showing me a mangled version.

None of the browser guys asked me what I thought they should do with RSS. Actually Microsoft did, but when I expressed an opinion they looked at me in an odd way as if to say “We didn’t know you could talk.” They ignored everything I asked them to do. It didn’t turn out that they took over the world as they were sure they would. Almost everything they did was predicated on the assumption that they would.

A picture named loverss.jpegI don’t think the browser guys ever understood RSS or liked it very much. Their idea was to try to sweep it away, or make it look like a website, but they couldn’t make up their minds, and their implementations were all over the map. I’d say they hurt the cause by adding all that confusion. So when Apple pulls back, I’m okay with that.

If I had to guess their motives, I’d say it probably goes something like this. Not too many people are using this feature, and it confuses everyone, so let’s take it out.

It might be more nefarious, but honestly, I only care a little, and I don’t have the bandwidth to pay much attention to the things I don’t care about a lot.

What I recommend is to do this — put an XML icon on your website. Point it to your feed. Don’t say “Click here to subscribe” because that isn’t what happens. If you feel you have to say anything, just say “this is my feed.”

Try to have the feed you link to correspond to the HTML content they’re looking at. That’s a good consistency to try to establish.

Beyond that, there isn’t much more any of us can do at this point. It’s a fairly tangled mess. Try to see it as good news that the browser guys are getting out of this space, that means some of the tangled mess is going away.

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About Dave Winer

Dave Winer, 54, pioneered the development of weblogs, syndication (RSS), podcasting, outlining, and web content management software; former contributing editor at Wired Magazine, research fellow at Harvard Law School, entrepreneur, and investor in web media companies. A native New Yorker, he received a Master's in Computer Science from the University of Wisconsin, a Bachelor's in Mathematics from Tulane University and currently lives in Berkeley, California.
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