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Article: RSS: Lightweight Web Syndication

From: Dan Brickley <danbri@w3.org>
Date: Tue, 18 Jul 2000 20:16:00 -0400 (EDT)
To: www-rdf-interest@w3.org
Message-ID: <Pine.LNX.4.20.0007181936130.21042-100000@tux.w3.org>

hi all

Thought this might be of interest, and a counterbalance to the
high-geekery concerning logic/inference over RDF. Rael Dornfest has
written a nice xml.com article on RSS (the [RDF|Rich]
Site Summary data format), giving historical context and an overview of
the options and debates surrounding future of RSS and RSS-like
technologies. 

	http://www.xml.com/pub/2000/07/17/syndication/rss.html

I try not to fwd URLs without adding commentary (whether value adding or
not :-) so excuse my speculations. I find RSS interesting, having
spent an age in the Dublin Core and RDF worlds where progress can
seem slow. RSS has been picked up very fast by a certain community, but
has a rather unclear future path. So articles like Rael's are useful as
they hint at where RSS might meet the RDF/Dublin-Core world to mutual
benefit...

IMHO RDF has something to learn from the way in which the lightweight RSS
format has taken off. While it's a pity the later RSS specs lack a
mapping into the RDF model, the simplicity and ease of adoption of RSS (RDF-based
on not) has to be admired. And we can always use XSLT to scrape RSS back
into (eg) RDF/DC data structures...  Interesting question is how to find
the sweet spot between basic RSS (which offers barely more structure/semantics
than HTML bulleted lists, ie. is great for table-of-contents
syndication) and the alleged complexity of RDF. When working on RSS-based
apps, I've found a need to add in various additional constructs
(eg. subject classification), which use of XML namespaces might make more
easy to do in a manageable fashion.

Rael concludes...

	RSS is going to have to evolve or die as it gets pulled in different
	directions. If it can't support the directions required by different
	developers, it will fade in favor of more special purpose formats. 
	Whether a successful evolution takes the form of a larger
	flat-file core RSS, or a more comprehensive relational framework,
	movement is nonetheless needed. 


It'll be very interesting to watch how RSS evolves. People are using it
for everything, which suggests that requirements gathering for future
evolutions of the core specification could turn out to be a nightmare. How
to satisfy both the newsfeed aggregation community, the .mp3 piracy
community, the web sitemaps crowd etc etc., ie finding commonalities
across all the uses of RSS that allow sites to express more structured data
whilst still remainining universally understandable.

For example, RSS is being used to expose table of contents info for online
Auction sites, job sites, music sites etc; currently the format doesn't
allow clients to infer that the items described in RSS are jobs, audio tracks,
auction items; but looking at the way RSS is used, such applications are
looming... 

fun times :-)

--danbri
Received on Tuesday, 18 July 2000 20:16:07 GMT

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