Pinging with Pingoat

Post ImageSpeaking of web feeds, how about spreading the word about your web feed? One of the best ways is to use a pinging service. I came across a new one tonight called Pingoat (hat tip to Mark Evans) and I quite like it – it’s so fast! What in the world is Pingoat?

Pingoat is a service that pings or notifies a number of services that keep track of weblogs and publish them. By pinging, you let the services know that your blog has been updated and hence, they crawl and index your site, publishing your blog contents, thus increasing your blog’s popularity.

The other cool thing about Pingoat is that it supports a huge list of pinging services – far larger than Pingomatic. Check it out!

Read: Pingoat

Web Feeds or RSS?

Post ImageLots of discussion going on lately about whether or not Microsoft, and everyone else for that matter, should call RSS feeds “RSS” or “web feeds”. It all started with the first beta release of Internet Explorer 7, in which the term “web feeds” is used. Instead of delving into the complete history of this little debate, I’m going to instead point you to the excellent roundup by Ed Bott. Dave Winer, creator of the RSS standard, chimes in and says, “Don’t screw around with things you didn’t create and don’t understand.”

The debate is not much of a debate, in my opinion. There’s some really simple reasons that we should be calling them web feeds. When you ask your friend or co-worker about something on the Internet, do you talk about visiting an “HTML page” or a “web page”? Does your web browser (not “HTML page browser”) load up “HTML pages” or “web pages”? Clearly, you talk about web pages, and that’s what your browser loads. There are three very good reasons we use the term web pages:

  1. Saying “HTML page” is awkward. The masses like comfortable and simple, not awkward and complex.
  2. Calling a web page an “HTML page” is, technically, misleading. You’d be hard pressed to find any page on the Internet right now that consists of only HTML.
  3. Conceptually, a page that is only HTML, or combines HTML and JavaScript, or combines HTML, JavaScript, and CSS, etc., are all the same thing. When you load a web page, you don’t think about the technology behind it.

For the very same reasons, we should be using web feeds, not RSS feeds. The term “web feed” is comfortable and simple. It doesn’t exclude RDF, or Atom, or RSS with extensions, and so it isn’t technically misleading. And finally, a web feed is a web feed, regardless of the technology that powers it.

There’s other reasons “web feeds” is better than “RSS” too. For the technology to become as natural and invisible as web pages, it needs a simple name. And the technology is so very young – who’s to say that something newer won’t be created that does the same thing, but in a different or better way? Think Atom 1.0 here.

There’s really no reason to publish more than one web feed, and thus no reason to call them anything else. Certainly the applications which consume web feeds should support multiple technologies, like both RSS and Atom, but publishers shouldn’t really have to worry about what technology to use. They should, just as with web pages, pick the technology best suited to the task at hand. You don’t have separate browsers for HTML and HTML with CSS – same goes for web feeds.

If you’re reading this post on the web, you can no doubt see that I am pretty hypocritical. No where on my site will you find the term “web feed”, and I publish both RSS and Atom feeds. Well, my excuse is that until recently, I hadn’t given much thought to the terminology I used. Heck, I even use the orange “XML” icon for my “RSS” feeds (talk about confusing!). Now that I have given it some thought however, I’ll definitely be making some changes. Look for a web feed button soon!

NewsGator 2.5 Released

Post ImageThe latest version of my favorite news aggregator, NewsGator Outlook Edition, was released last night! I’m really happy with the way it works. Here are some of the new features, as described by Greg Reinacker:

Read/unread/deleted status of individual items is now synchronized between Outlook edition 2.5 and NewsGator Online (and all other applications using our system – more on that in a bit). Folder hierarchy is now synchronized between Outlook and Online. It’s all as it should be. As someone on the beta said, “it all worked exactly as I expected it to.” Nice.

There are lots of under the hood changes too, so it runs pretty fast, and very stable now. If you’re like me and you spend a lot of time in Outlook, there is no better aggregator than NewsGator. And with the purchase of FeedDemon, it’s only a matter of time before that application is also integrated into the new synchronization platform.

You can read the official announcement, the update Q&A, and download the new version.

Read: NewsGator

Tomorrow's RSS

Post ImageHere are some notes from the session on the future of RSS hosted by Mark Fletcher (Bloglines), Scott Rafer (Feedster), and Bob Wyman (PubSub):

  • Bob Wyman says that the future of RSS is actually in Atom. Mark counters that there is so much momentum behind RSS that it seems unlikely we’ll get a single standard. Bob says that the work that has already been done on Atom ensures that there will be enough flexibility to do the things we want to in the future.
  • Almost all of the aggregators support all of the different formats of feeds, so the three panelists are saying that there is no need to publish in each of the formats, just pick one, because having all sorts of formats simply confuses users. An audience member counters that some feed formats look different in different aggregators. Bob says that the problem doesn’t belong to the publisher, but rather to the aggregator, and they need to make the aggregator show one format just as well as another.
  • The only problem I see with only using Atom, for example, is that you can’t do things like podcasting.
  • There’s lots of experimentation going on right now with RSS and advertising, and the panelists say there doesn’t seem to be a right way just yet. Bob says that we absolutely need to have advertising in RSS, the feeds need to be monetized.
  • An audience member asked the panelists if they could start their companies again, would they do anything different. Feedster says nope, they’d do the same thing. Mark says that if he could start Bloglines again, the main thing he would change is the name. He says it works for a number of reasons, but it doesn’t work for many more reasons. Bob says the only thing he’d change would be to have started it six to eight months earlier.
  • Someone asked why the companies feel that they cannot charge for their services. Bob replies that they do charge some customers very hefty fees for the same data that you can get for free – the companies pay for quality of service, access to programmers, and that sort of thing. Scott says that while the service isn’t incredibly expensive to run, they do have some relationships with big publishers from which they get paid every now and then.
  • Another audience member asked if the panelists have thought of any scenarios where the current technology is not well suited or maybe needs to be improved. Mark says that Microsoft’s announcement from yesterday will most certainly be supported, but said that you can go a long way with the technology already in place.

Read: Gnomedex

Tomorrow's Syndication and HiveCasting

Just
listened to the “Tomorrow’s Syndication” session here at Gnomedex,
hosted by Steve Gillmor, Dave Sifry, and Scott Gatz. Here’s a couple
notes:

  • Dave Winer made the point that no one uses attention.xml, so what’s
    the point for Yahoo to support it ? (It does support attention.xml in
    myYahoo)
  • Actually this session was kinda funny because Yahoo was made out to be “the old Microsoft”
  • Basically, a major vendor won’t play ball with a technology like attention.xml on a small level simply because of economics

Yeah I didn’t take too much away from this session, but it appears
that some people did, so that’s good. As I am writing this, B.
Honeywell (dressed in a bee costume) just took the stage to explain
“HiveCasting – the Future of Communication”. Some details:

  • HiveCasting enables hive to hand communication
  • Bee communication is improved by outfitting bees with radios and antennas (some funny pictures on the screen now)
  • Then communication went one step further, by integrating a circuit board into a bee hive
  • Now there’s just a barrage of slides, I can’t keep up, but this is pretty funny 🙂
  • Ah now there’s two audience members dressed as bees, asking questions and making comments. Priceless!

Ah that was refreshing, and good call Chris, a little humor goes a long way!

Read: Gnomedex

Microsoft to make RSS announcement at Gnomedex

Post ImageThere will probably be quite a few Gnomedex-related posts over the next few days, so I figured the new graphic would be a good idea. I’ll use it for any post related to the conference – that way, if you’re less interested in the conference and more interested in what Dickson and I are up to in Seattle, you’ll know which posts to read and which to ignore.

It has been rumored for some time now that Microsoft is making a big announcement this weekend at Gnomedex, but this News.com article is the first mainstream press to pick it up (that I have seen anyway):

Microsoft plans to announce on Friday that it is expanding its support for the Web publishing standard Really Simple Syndication.

Microsoft is proposing an extension to RSS that would allow it to better support ordered lists of information. Today, RSS feeds are sent and read merely as a stream of messages, with the order being determined according to the time the messages were sent. Microsoft is proposing a way to add ordering information so that an RSS feed could better handle things like an e-commerce site’s list of best-selling items or calendar information ordered by the date of an event rather than when the appointment was created.

Sounds pretty interesting, and the article quotes Dave Winer, which probably means he’s not against the proposed extension. I guess I’ll be able to post details from the conference 🙂

Read: CNET News.com