Who Invented RSS?

by M. David Peterson

re: Patent Applications in the RSS space

>...We have always fully acknowledged the innovators and supporters of RSS, like Dave Winer, Nick Bradbury and many others...

I think you misspelled 'innovators' - let me help. Did you mean 'inventors'?

You can get a spellchecker for Firefox here - http://spellbound.sourceforge.net/ as that's a nasty habit to get into, and would be worthwhile correcting real soon...

Sunday, December 24, 2006 6:33 AM by TH


Huh. Interesting comment. COMPLETELY FALSE! But interesting, none-the-less.

Actually, that's not true... "You can get a spellchecker for Firefox here - http://spellbound.sourceforge.net/ " is true. The rest is false.

How so?

4 Comments

Ric
2006-12-26 16:19:05
Microsoft certainly has a place in the pantheon of "RSS" heroes - the problem is that it feels it necessary to use a software patent to do so ... and PLEASE don't come back with the "it's only defensive" line - MS is as ready as any patent troll to misuse the concept of patents for its own commercial benefit.
M. David Peterson
2006-12-26 16:54:37
@Ric,


>> Microsoft certainly has a place in the pantheon of "RSS" heroes -


I'm not of the belief that anyone is an "RSS Hero" -- RSS, in of itself, doesn't promote the sense of anyone, or anything being dubbed a hero.


That said, they do deserve credit for developing the first commercial XML web feed syndication format, as opposed to being called theives and liars, which for all intents and purposes is what a majority of the comments on the subject boil down to. Whether the TechnoNeophytes of the world are willing to do the research, or are willing to believe that the results of such research would show that RSS (in its "2.0" format) is directly influenced by CDF, is beside the point, which is pretty simple --


- XML syndication (hell, XML for that matter!) hit the streets in 1996/97 under the banner of Channel Definition Format. Netscape found ways to take the concept of describing content, making it MUCH more specific, calling the result RDF -- the two formats serve VERY different purposes, so one would be hard pressed to suggest that RDF is a derivative work of CDF, so please don't take this to mean I believe that it is.


Since that time we have seen a constant bastardization of CDF and RDF (not necessarily a bad thing, btw... just stating facts of derivative works.) RSS 1.0 (which for those wondering, *IS NOT* the follow-up to RSS 0.93 -- that would be RSS "2.0". Confused? Yeah, we all are to some extent ;)) does a nice job of creating a clean, simple, and straight forward syndication format that borrows from both CDF and RDF. Did it go far enough? No. Though its a *TON* better than the attempt to one up (literally!) the efforts behind RSS 1.0 with RSS 2.0 which is just a buggy, horrific, bastardization of a bastardization of a bastardization (in that order! ;))


Enter Atom.


If you want to know the truth, the real (in my own opinion) "Hero's of RSS" are the folks behind the creation of the Atom Syndication Format and the Atom Publishing Protocol. But that doesn't take away from the fact that MSFT created the first XML syndication format, and instead adds to the fact that the idea in and of itself was and is a good one -- and it started with MSFT/CDF and ended with IETF/Atom. Actually, ended is probably the wrong word. Innovation hasn't ended. The need for a well designed, patent free -- (at least I *think* Atom is patent free, and if its not, no doubt there is a general understanding that the IP, in and of itself, is in the "public domain", or something to that effect.) --, bug free, and built through experience XML syndication format, has.


>> the problem is that it feels it necessary to use a software patent to do so ... and PLEASE don't come back with the "it's only defensive" line -


Why? What if it *IS* its only defense.


From a representative of the Horses mouth [Don Dodge @ http://dondodge.typepad.com/the_next_big_thing/2006/12/patent_lunacy_d.html < yes, I realize you (Ric) already know this; I read your follow-up comment.],


Microsoft reportedly has filed two patents covering certain aspects of RSS, Really Simple Syndication. Dave Winer is outraged. Nick Bradbury sagely says "Not so fast". I don't have the inside scoop on this yet, but here is what I think is happening. Microsoft is protecting itself against patent trolls.


Relax. I believe Microsoft has no intention of enforcing this patent against anyone, and no intention of collecting royalties on it. Microsoft is not pretending that they invented RSS...just protecting itself against potential patent infringement lawsuits from "shell companies" and "patent trolls" who do nothing but sue big companies. Sad to say this is the current state of the patent system.


>> MS is as ready as any patent troll to misuse the concept of patents for its own commercial benefit.


This, of course, is your opinion. I don't personally know of any evidence that suggests this to be realistic possibility (e.g. They did it to so-and-so), and to be quite honest, MSFT can make a TON more money spending their time writing and selling -- you know -- software, than they could waiting for a "Sucka' Fish" to snag the line via obscure patent filings.


That said, historical precedence REALLY DOES matter. And at this moment in time, I am of the belief that historical precedence is in MSFTs favor. Am I wrong?

len
2006-12-26 20:58:51
Not wrong, Dave. Just not 'proven'. A patent is a graph of essential claims pinned to specific provable (say witnessed, notarized, filing dates, etc) by documentation. A good friend of mine was the patent reviewer for EOLAS. He wasn't that sanguine about the outcome but if you read the review, under the policies by which the PTO operates and given the documents filed for his review, he ruled correctly. He told me one hot August night across a barbeque pit, "You software geniuses really should come to understand the power of dates on your documents..." He is a good guy and a heckuva fine musician. He was notorious for not suffering fools gladly, though, for a guy who's nickname was "Saint".


I keep expecting the kids here to grow up and understand that the web is a business; not a 'we have sets and costumes in the barn, let's put on a show' Andy Hardy comedy.


But the entertainment value of this stuff is enormous because of the naivete of the horrified pundits. We've seen the same plotline so many times now that's like going to see "Black Christmas" expecting it to be a real horror film.

M. David Peterson
2006-12-28 15:19:47
@len,


Firstly, sorry for the late response! @ a Family reunion, and have limited connectivity to the net at the moment.


Secondly,


>> I keep expecting the kids here to grow up and understand that the web is a business; not a 'we have sets and costumes in the barn, let's put on a show' Andy Hardy comedy.


AMEN TO THAT!!! :D


>> But the entertainment value of this stuff is enormous because of the naivete of the horrified pundits. We've seen the same plotline so many times now that's like going to see "Black Christmas" expecting it to be a real horror film.


Oh how so very true >> I wouldn't have half the smile I have on my face at any given moment if it wasn't for the entertainment value of all this stuff :D


Will catch up with this thread again when I return on Saturday.


Thanks len!