9 Sep 2002 edd   » (Master)

On RSS

I had promised myself not to get drawn into the recent resurgence of debate on removing the RDF from RSS 1.0. I fought long and hard in the past for the reformulation of RSS using RDF, so I feel I ought to say a little, maybe at least to justify why I'm not re-entering the debate in any way.

One of the major advantages of using RDF was that it decentralized control of the format. Anybody can write a module for RSS (and plenty of people have) without having to persuade, and perhaps get thwarted by, some central point of control. Furthermore, using RDF rather than just plain old XML meant that there were no nasty issues of DTDs or Schemas. RSS 1.0 became a bit more like a Perl hashtable, where you just inspected a file and took what you were interested in, rather than having to validate an entire structure. And, as a namespace is forever, nobody can alter RSS 1.0 to remove or change the core elements that exist in it.

Now people want to change things again, and remove the RDF syntax. Well, I'm not worried. RSS 1.0 achieved its purpose, and removed the point of central control. The RSS 1.0 namespace won't go away, and I can carry on using -- and extending if I wish -- RSS 1.0 to my heart's content. My other RDF software will be able to use terms from the RSS vocabulary just as before.

There's much more to say about why the direction some folk want to take now is advisable, but this isn't the place for it. Maybe the bar at OSCOM might be, if anyone's interested.

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