Google, Atom, and RSS
Dan Gillmor and Dave Winer are complaining about Google's insistence on supporting Atom to the exclusion of RSS.
They're right to complain. Google is acting very Microsoft-ish in this: "we know what's best for you, and so we're going to do it for you, whether you like it or not."
I really like the advantages RSS technology brings in helping me keep up with news items and blogs. To put it simply, RSS makes my life easier. Google's insistence on bringing a new format into the mix and forcing everyone to comply, when there wasn't a strong cry for it, does not. It forces me to get a new aggregator as the RSS feeds I was using don't work any more, figure out what Atom is, and will probably force me to add an Atom template to my own blog in the future. This isn't a huge deal, but I really didn't want to bother with it.
All that kind of goes against Google's motto of "no evil." In doing this, it looks like Google is doing its best to use its weight to impose what it wants on people, rather than seeking to help make what they are already doing easier.
But, I suspect Google will win on this, just as Microsoft usually does in its endeavors. Just a little ironic.
February 11, 2004 01:45 PM
"Google's insistence on bringing a new format into the mix and forcing everyone to comply, when there wasn't a strong cry for it, does not."
First off, Google didnt create Atom; Atom was created by a group of developers from all sorts of different companies (including SixApart, the people who make MovableType). And they aren't forcing anyone to comply; no one who you were subscribed to via RSS was forced to switch to Atom (only regular blogger users were given the Atom-or-nothing option).
From a technology standpoint, Atom is better situated to project syndication into the mainstream. There were a whole bunch of problems with RSS, from the inconsistencies in implementation to the variety of versions. Atom clears up and handles a bunch of these problems, and makes things a lot easier from a developer's perspective. Google may be throwing their weight around, but they don't control the spec. Compare this to RSS where a single vendor had control until a few months ago.
Hmmm ... the impression I got from Gillmor and Winer was that the blogger users with RSS were being forced to switch to Atom, which Gillmor now notes is not true. Although there are some blogs that I've subscribed to that dropped RSS and switched to Atom.
From a technical standpoint, I understand the development point of view of the advantages. However, from a user's POV, this is a mild irritant; I shouldn't have to care.
All that to say, all I really wanted is that Google had rolled out RSS and Atom support at the same time, so that Atom people could use RSS until Atom became more mainstream and more aggregators supported it. I'm just not a big fan of the cold turkey approach.