Real-time Simple Standardisation

These are busy days in the RSS community. Dave Winer thinks Microsoft is “going to fuck all of us” and steal RSS, and suggests:

We could establish a profile of RSS 2.0 and implement strict compliance with that profile in the major blogging tools. We could give that profile a name, and jointly market it to users.

Sam Ruby said “Excellent!”, and so did many others. Don Box made a proposal, for which Sam Ruby hosts a disussion thread. Mark Nottingham announced a new RSS wiki which would feed in to the RFC as well as the Profile as they evolve. Jørgen Thelin will work on the XML schema for the Profile. Timothy Appnel asks the basic question:

At what point does the specification stop and extensible modules begin?

Tim Bray jumps in and uses the S-word, “Standardization”, and says:

Standards happen when someone is willing to get behind them and burn the cycles and the brain cells and not stop till it’s done. If someone’s willing to find the time, it can be done, otherwise not.

Tim goes through the various potential standardisation bodies, and ends up picking IETF, and supports the RFCifying of RSS 2.0 that Mark Nottingham started a few weeks ago. Don Box suggests the standardisation process is taken to OASIS instead, but doesn’t seem to have any hard opinions on this.

Many in the debate seem to take for granted that RSS 2.0 has won. This is a foregone conclusion, and is challenged by many, for example,
Ben Trott and Danny Ayers, who sticks with RDF-based RSS 1.0. Maybe they should forth and suggest standardisation through W3C (who uses RSS 1.0).

But wait, in comes a new specification that is intended to act as a bridge between RSS 2.0 and RSS 1.0 on a technical level. Simple Semantic Resolution (SSR) Module for the RSS 2.0 syndication format. The purpose of SSR is to provide a mechanism by which the semantics of an RSS 2.0 document can be unambiguously resolved to an RDF model. Will this really work? It would be great if it would.

In terms of the standardisation process, the idea of using a Profile is an intersting trick, and probably the right way to take with RSS. Profiles are suitable for emerging technologies, and RSS is still an emerging technology.

As I understand the profile concept it is more or less like American English and British English, which could be seen as two profiles of the same language. It’s a mess having two ways of spelling the S-word, standardisation and standardization, but somehow it works, probably due to the two profiles being used literally by millions every day. And, if anyone should ever dream of standardis/zing English, they’d better get up early, because that’s going to be a long ride.

One of my work projects is about creating what we call a Reference Profile for eGov Interoperability. This is basically the Danish pendent to UK’s e-GIF, Germany’s SAGA, i.e., a national Interoperability Framework. The Reference Profile will contain technical policies and specifications which are formally recognised by the Danish government.

I’m happy we chose to call our framework a profile, although the Reference Profile is much more “meta” than, say, the Basic Profile Version 1.0 (Board Approval Draft, BdAD). In fact, our Reference Profile could end up refering to the Basic Profile.

It is worth noting that it was only this week W3C released SOAP as a Proposed Recommendation (that’s one step closer to becoming a W3C Recommendation, but we’re not quite there yet).

The Danish XML Committee is working on an Integration Handbook featuring (Part 2) guidelines for how to use web services in integration projects. A draft is available for pre-consultative comments (you can send comments to me).

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