The RSS Consensus
A Letter to all Present and Future RSS Syncing Platforms
First of congratulations! The shutdown of Google Reader has created the perfect opportunity for you to show off your talents and bring (some would say, desperately needed) new ideas and innovation to the realm of RSS. We are all very keen to see these ideas come to life.
Right now you are probably preoccupied with pushing releases and keeping servers running smoothly. But I would nonetheless like to call your attention to the following issue: The lack of consensus, among RSS Syncing Platforms, on a new common API format.
Google Reader was the de facto standard and was thus used as a platform for others to build upon↬. With its upcoming shutdown, we are entering a fragmented market of feed-syncing platforms (I count at least half a dozen already). This puts us at the brink of war, e.g. a new format war that, if it breaks out, will 1) take end-users as hostages, 2) discourage other developers from building upon the technology, and 3) erode any progress and innovation you might otherwise be bringing to the table.
A format war would be devastating for the RSS ecosystem. We take it for granted now that content providers put up RSS feeds. But this is not a given. They will only do so long as it’s worth their effort and it drives traffic.
The more people used Reader, the more attractive it was to have an RSS feed and to write posts in feed-friendly ways. And the more people provided RSS content and structured online interactions around the blogs that pass through RSS, the more attractive it became to be a part of that ecosystem. If you then pull away the product at the heart of that system, you end up causing significant disruption … ↬ Google’s Google problem
All this when we instead could share a common platform and could be:
- Fighting for new users, not just the existing Google Reader users. »Reader is (was?) for information junkies; not just tech nerds. This market totally exists and is weirdly under-served (and is possibly affluent)«↬ as Chris Wetherell writes.
- Convincing those many still, profoundly unaware of the great benefits of RSS, to come join in and experience. Experience benefits you and I enjoy everday. However it might require a great deal of explaining to give RSS general consumer appeal.
- Competing on creating great products, not on creating lock-ins.
… one of the main reasons why Google Reader could exist was because companies and entities with completely conflicting agendas came together to support RSS and other standards. Google, MoveableType, Blogger, WordPress, Flickr and several other web apps believed in creating RSS feeds for easy consumption. “In the end it helped the average users,” said Wetherell. ↬ Google Reader lived on borrowed time
It is not a winner-take-all market, there will be many winners. I am inclined to say you can all be winners. That is if you collaborate and grow the pie, not just split it. Let’s do it. Let’s once again put aside differences and work together to share in one common platform:
THE RSS CONSENSUS PLEDGE:
- One new feed-sync protocol, based (or not) on the Google Reader API.
- Open and 100% vendor neutral.
- Implemented by everybody.
- Cleanly and thoroughly specified.
- Further development of this protocol.
- Adding additional features.
- Freely extensible by anybody.
If you can support this, please link to it from your weblog or twitter account, with a few words as to why you support it. For further discussion and infomation on the technical aspects, please refer to The RSS-Sync mailing list.
Yours truly, Fans of the RSS Consensus
Company / Product List (Alphabetically):
If a name is linked, it should go to a permalink for the source of the quote. Add new names at the bottom of the page.
- Владимир Шабанов: “We need single open vendor neutral feed-sync API.”
- Avi Flax: “I support The RSS Consensus on the Open Reader API because feeds are fantastic and we need a vibrant ecosystem.”
- Bruno Renié: “… it is becoming clear that APIs for feed syncing and reading need to be standardized. This would avoid duplicating work for both server and client developers. FeedHQ fully supports the Open Reader API initiative. We’ll do our best to support the standard which will emerge because we think it’s best for the end users.”