Talking to Mr Safe

Dave Winer in today’s Scripting News:

Alexander Svensson writes: “The German Constitutional Court now syndicates its decisions and press releases using RSS 2.0.”

On Friday we noted that the Danish government is also standardizing on RSS. It seems that Mr Safe has made his decision. Smiley

Last summer, Mr Safe, the character Dave refers to, also “talked” to Tim Bray, Jon Udell, Joshua Allen and then Chad Dickerson whose Mr Safe checked in with Gartner (very funny).

Lo and behold, tonight Mr Safe called me. I recorded our conversation:

Mr Safe: I am now convinced that I must offer some XML-feeds to our clients. I looked in the Danish Reference Profile and found that I can choose between RSS 2.0 and RSS 1.0 for my syndication purposes. Which format should I choose?

Me: If you want to be safe, you should publish your data in both formats. Sure, they serve the same purpose, but consider it like having both Dollars and Euros in your wallet. A bit annoying, but bearable, and sometimes useful.

Mr Safe: What? RSS is money?

Me: Ehh, yes, you can say that RSS 1.0 is your Dollars and RSS 2.0 your Euros, I guess.

Mr Safe: I see. But can’t I just stick to one format? Doesn’t everone accept Dollars these days?

Me: Look. You also publish your press announcements through various channels, don’t you? You still send those old faxes around, don’t you? And emails. And on your website. And as a PDF-file. And …

Mr Safe: OK, I got your point.

Me: And besides, to return to the syndication issue, you better prepare to embrace the emerging format called Atom too, but since that hasn’t even made it into the Reference Profile (yet), you can consider yourself perfectly safe when publishing only RSS. But keep your CMS flexible and prepared for new formats.

Mr Safe: What? Atom? Last time you talked about Echo.

Me: Yes. They changed the name.

Mr Safe: So, you want me to publish two RSS-feeds and an Atom-feed? That’s a lot!

Me: I’d say that Atom is optional. Focus on RSS and learn how it works. Try and use your own feeds in your own applications. Put your press announcements on your intranet via a feed parser or something, if you can find more innovative uses.

Mr Safe: Now that makes sense. Where do I start?

Me: I would recommend starting with RSS 2.0. That is the simplest of them all. But do take a look at the others too, so you get a fuller picture of the variety of options and possibilities.

Mr Safe: When will things settle a bit more?

Me: When pigs fly. Enjoy the politics of difference.

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