From: 	Aaron Straup Cope

To: 	boris

Subject: 	Re: Hrm.. Echo?

Date: 	27 Jun 2003 08:08:02 -0400	

Yeah, I've heard of echo. I wish them luck, but I honestly don't think

it will fly. For a few reasons:

In among all the talk of a common syndication format is talk of a common

API and that's *never* going to happen. I spent a little bit of time

thrashing around with this on the weblog-devel list and it became clear

that given the difficulties in identifying just the parts of a post

(body; title, body; title,link,body; excerpt,body; etc.) we weren't ever

going to get very far. 

Two points here: 1) that we were even able to agree on the idea of

"post" speaks volumes about the influence that RSS has had on things 2)

that we didn't succeed in creating a Grand Unifying Theory of Weblog is

okay and probably a Good Thing.

I've said this a few times in the last couple days, spewing almost

nothing but pure bile yesterday [1], these are technical problems.

Everybody wants some magic seamless import/export functionality (or at

least the idea of it; I have yet to understand what people are going to

*do* with it when they get it,) The impression I get is that they think

some kind of dorky, the network is my pal, group hug is the way to deal 

with it. It is not. 

It is not, because anything that gets developed will, in short order, be

RSS-ed. That is, no one is going to wait around to achieve consensus on

whether or not their patches to the spec are approved. Not users and

certainly not developers. Let me pause for a moment and say, lest you

think I have turned in to some kind of irate laissez faire crank that I

am all for consensus where applicable. XML is a good place for

standardization; weblogs and the various bits associated with them are

not. A weblog has always been, whatever anyone wanted to be (just do a

Google search on "Ben Brown 3000 words") and, by extension so, is its

static representation and its I/O "methods" (API, if any.) 

Any standardization there is today is simply the result of convention

which is fine, but don't confuse it for the "stoneness of the stone" so

to speak.

People are trying to pin it down (again) because they think there's big

money somewhere in here, atleast in the short term. What they are really

trying to do is pin down RSS (which was pinned down a long time ago) and

formalize the weblog as its vehicle. They can probably do the first, but

people will continue to do whatever they want on their weblogs. That is

the Idea of Weblog.

RSS is not a weblog archive format, despite what other people may say.

It never was; it has always just been an XML representation of the

intersection of many different weblogs (what is the role of the <link>

element, anyone?) and it sure looks like people got blinded by the

light. Weblog authors and tool-maker have too many divergent needs and

interests to ever follow one another's lead. Never mind the social



It's not rocket science. All people need is for tool-makers to provide a

static XML dump of their content. The semantics don't really matter;

docs would help but it's not the end of the world. Any kind of

interchange of content is going to require human intervention. I sense

that people want to believe this isn't true but, well, they're wrong.

We're not crunching numbers here. It's human thought, with all its

subtleties and contradictions, and computers suck when it comes to

grokking stuff like that. 

We're going to have to keep have holding their little binary hands for a

long time to come. We're going to have to keep on actively maintaining

lists, mental or otherwise, that say aaron:2 + boris:2 = boris:5. 

Which sucks, perhaps, but people had better get used to it. That's life.

That's the bad news. The good news is that these days we have tools and

frameworks (repeat after me: weblogs are not a framework) that make the

actual drudgery easier.