Question of the week-3: Who invented RSS and when?

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This topic contains 6 replies, has 3 voices, and was last updated by  Eben Townes 12 years, 5 months ago.

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  • #64467

    Dr D.C.Misra

    RSS is now seen every where, be it a blog, a website, or what have you. But who invented it and when?

  • #64479

    Eben Townes

    May 31, 2004 (Computerworld) —
    For several years, my morning information drill has gone something like this: turn on the monitor, then quickly check my e-mail to see if there’s anything that needs immediate attention. That out of the way, it’s time to fire up the Web browser and check those URLs that I go to every day. Some are news sites, some are technical, others are discussion forums related to current projects, and some reflect my interests.

    If I’m busy and don’t get to visit every site—or perhaps none at all for several days—then I’m likely to get so far behind that I can’t usefully catch up and have to reconcile myself to perhaps having missed something important.
    This is a routine familiar to many knowledge workers. If you’re lucky, you may have only a half-dozen such sites to check each morning. Or you might have to look at 40 or 50, depending on the work you’re doing. It’s a time-consuming, if important, chore, and even bookmarks, favorites or tabbed browsers (such as Mozilla Firefox) don’t speed up the process much. You still have to go to each page, load it, remember how it’s formatted and find where you were the last time. There has to be a better way.
    The solution is an interesting notion called RSS, which is an outgrowth of work done at Netscape Communications Corp., culminating in 1999’s (What does RSS stand for? That’s a simple question with several different answers. See sidebar below.) RSS is an XML-based format originally designed for sharing headlines and other Web content. It allows computers to automatically fetch and understand the information users want, to track and personalize lists they’re interested in.
    While HTML is designed to present information directly to users, RSS is an automation mechanism for computers to communicate with one another. RSS feeds can let you know if a site has been updated recently.
    RSS forms an important underlying technology for many weblogs and portals such as My Yahoo. Commercial sites noticed how RSS turbocharged the distribution of content, and many news sites, including those of The New York Times, the BBC, CNN and Computerworld (see Computerworld’s RSS feed lineup), have created RSS feeds to increase the visibility of their content. RSS solves many of the problems webmasters face, such as increasing site traffic and the difficulty of gathering and distributing news. RSS can also serve as the basis for distributing other types of content.
    How RSS Works
    RSS starts with an original Web site that has content available. The Web site creates an RSS feed, sometimes called a channel, that’s available just like any other resource or file on the Web server. The site registers this feed in the form of an RSS document, with a directory of RSS publishers.

    Once an RSS feed is available on the Web, any computer can regularly fetch it. The most common type of program to do this is called an aggregator, or news reader. Such programs enable users to collect information from many different sources of their own selection with a single, automated application that checks RSS feeds regularly and highlights new material.

  • #64477

    Bennett Kobb

    > RSS starts with an original Web site that has content available.

    Not really true. You can offer an RSS feed without a website. I do. You do not need a website to create an RSS feed; any text editor will do, or any decent database will output RSS (I use FileMaker Pro). You could probably use Excel to output an RSS feed for that matter.

    > While HTML is designed to present information directly to users, RSS is an automation mechanism for computers to communicate with one another.

    That is also a questionable statement. RSS provides information directly to users through the newsreader or aggregator. You are reading essentially the same information through a different application than a web browser; however, you can combine the reader and the browser like Google Reader does.

    The key issue is — why aren’t more folks using RSS and more government information sources outputting one or more RSS feeds!

  • #64475

    Dr D.C.Misra

    I don’t want to bias the judge but it is an excellent answer.

  • #64473

    Dr D.C.Misra

    Hello, Vickey, are you in? There are only two replies and you have to declare winner so that he can act as a judge in the next question of the week which I am going to post shortly.

  • #64471

    Bennett Kobb

    I didn’t know I was entering a contest!

    At any rate, to understand the history of RSS it is necessary to credit the seminal work of Dave Winer of As Tim O’Reilly wrote:

    “RSS was born in 1997 out of the confluence of Dave Winer’s “Really Simple Syndication” technology, used to push out blog updates, and Netscape’s “Rich Site Summary”, which allowed users to create custom Netscape home pages with regularly updated data flows.

    “Netscape lost interest, and the technology was carried forward by blogging pioneer Userland, Winer’s company. In the current crop of applications, we see, though, the heritage of both parents.”

    Userland Software produced the first real personal blogging application with integrated RSS: Radio Userland. Its users were churning out RSS feeds and syndicating them long before CNN or other mainstream media had heard of RSS.

    Today, few remember Radio Userland — which had nothing to do with radio — and probably fewer tried to learn its arcane programming language UserTalk. But this product, and its brother Manila, really introduced the idea of instant web publishing without writing HTML or uploading files.

    Dave’s choice of bright orange to signify XML and RSS are found everywhere in RSS logos. The standard microformat for RSS readers, OPML, is his invention.

  • #64469

    Dr D.C.Misra

    Vickey, our judge for this week, is not in. Being time-bound this thread has to be closed so that we could move on. Deputing on her behalf I declare you the winner and close this thread. Now pilot this weeks’ question: who invented e-mail and when? which I have already posted and declare the winner by next Friday, i.e., January 16th. Thanks in advance. Keep the ball rolling.

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