Scobleizer Weblog

Daily Permalink Monday, December 15, 2003

Oh, geez, Sriram Krishnan mixed my blog with a movie script. Scoble, Tom Hanks, Helen Hunt...

Chris Coulter just moved to California and is IM'ing me from his place in Sacramento. He notes how out of wack the bureacracy is there. Time to register a car in Illinois? 15 minutes. Time to register one in California? All day long.

Yeah, but you have the "Governator" now.

Steve Maine is amazed that the guy who invented the Wiki is coming to work at Microsoft. Hey, if a guy who told Gates to split up Microsoft can get a job here, why not a guy who actually did something innovative?

Andy Hopper, in response to my rant on settings I'd like to see in Longhorn, asks "What, do you want Windows to become the next Linux?"

OK, OK, I cry Uncle. Some of my ideas were stupid. You just have to figure out which ones. :-)

Tim Heuer says that the Microsoft Knowledge Base RSS feeds are "must haves."

Marc Canter's back. He started with my template and is now adding his own touches.

Halley's asking what's up with the hidden blogroll. I hid mine because I didn't have time to keep it up. I'm still thinking about what to do with my sidebar.

The RSS 2.0 Framework. Enables .NET programmers to add syndication to their apps.

Anand M. asks Is VB the Devil? In response to David Berlind's article on ZDNet.

Microsoft Monitor analyzes the reorganization that happened today. There's a new Windows Core OS Division.

This one is for Maryam, since she is 1000 miles away: Iranian weblog reaction to Saddam's capture.

MSNBC has completed a major redesign. What they didn't talk about was they also moved to .NET -- here's the details from the MSNBC team:

The MSNBC publishing platform is designed on the .NET framework from the ground up. Content is stored in XML, rendering is driven by XSL, and all interaction between components is based on Web Services. The scalability of this architecture was proven in a simulated 100,000-user load test. Our web servers handled 25 percent more user load, as well as traffic spikes anywhere from 20 percent to 100 percent higher than the old system.

I get lots of requests for more Longhorn info. Here's one way: Join the Longhorn Readiness Program. Exclusive benefits include a free copy of the official Microsoft PDC 2003 Conference DVD (a US$499 value) and a free copy of the Developer Guide to Migration and Interoperability in Longhorn.

MetaFilter covers the PowerPoint Makes You Dumb story coming out of NASA. "I will now blame every stupid thing I've said or done in the last three years on Microsoft."

Oh, just blame it all on me! Next thing we'll hear is that the Scobleizer makes people dumberer.

You'll hear a lot about Windows XP's next service pack. This is a MAJOR security update. Mary Jo Foley points at a link on Neowin to a document that explains all the changes.

Russell Beattie talks about Nokia's use of RSS.

Jeremy Smith asks about the Atom/RSS debates I keep starting here: "can we all move along?"

Oh, since I'm working on a new blogroll-style set of features for my sidebar, my ears stuck up when I heard about XFN -- the XHTML Friends Network. This sounds a bit like FOAF. Marc Canter, what do you think (Marc is always telling me to get with the FOAF program)?

Who's behind it? Eric, Tantek, and Matt.

In my rant earlier, I hinted that syndication could change on Longhorn. But, how?

Well, Longhorn fixes some things that are holding back SmartClient adoption today. For instance, on Longhorn there's a new application delivery model. Translation: it's easier to install a Longhorn app than it is to install a Windows XP app. That'll get more people to try more software.

There's also a new security model (well, actually we'll ship most of that with XP's Service Pack 2). So, users will be more likely to install software because they'll be less likely to get viruses or spyware.

Finally there are tons of new capabilities in Longhorn. For instance, today our filesystem is pretty limited. You can have files. You can have folders. That's about it. In Longhorn you can store a ton of metadata with your files. You can also find those files much more easily. Why is that important to syndication? Because now you have a file system that supports sending files out via a syndication feed, storing them locally, and then letting users get to them in new and interesting ways.

Also, now that we have a really nice compositing engine, we can give a world-class reading experience to syndication users. One problem with RSS is that my news reader really is pretty ugly. It displays text in an ugly way. In the future that won't be true. In fact, the "underspecfied nature" of RSS might actually work to Longhorn's advantage in the future because developers could make readers that display text much nicer (and the user would be in control of fonts and such).

These are just some of the changes coming. Others are simply because of the trends of the industry. Always on computing. Service Based Architectures -- you know, apps that get and display data from Services -- will dominate by 2010. Seamless wireless. Processor power galore. Video cards with 256MB of memory or more. New Tablet-style form factors. Integration with home entertainment systems. Multiple digital cameras at home and at work.

All of these things are adding up to the increased need for syndication-style publishing. Longhorn will deliver there. Will today's syndication formats be enough? I don't think so -- does RSS or Atom provide enough functionality to deliver five videos and then display them properly in a .NET app running in Longhorn's composition engine? Which is why I think we'll need an RSS 3.0 (or, a future version of Atom or maybe even a format we don't forsee today).

But, I'm sure someone will call me an idiot within the next 24 hours. Here, let me get that out of the way for you. I'm an idiot. Now, can we talk about where the future will be? Hint: it probably won't work out how either me or you will expect it to.

Maybe we should take this up on the Longhorn Blogs. What will syndication look like on Longhorn? What are some user experiences that we could build for Longhorn users that aren't possible on XP?

Here's the new UserLand management team.

Here's the press release announcing the new UserLand management team.

Ahh, now the truth can be told. The company I met with while on vacation down in Silicon Valley was the new UserLand. Scott Young, the new CEO, invited me up for a nice chat with the new management, sales, and engineering team. They are rebooting the business. That's good. I wish them all the best and will do everything I can to help make them a success. Manila is still one of my favorite products out there for the corporate weblogging world. It'll be interesting to see what happens as they rebuild the business.

I was impressed with the new management team. Definitely are working on clearing up the cruft we left for them to clean up -- if you're interested in working with UserLand again, you should drop Scott a line.

Tip #1 for Scott: start a weblog!

A Note to Harvard University:

Dave Winer handed you a major gift when he turned RSS 2.0 over to Harvard. One that, I'm sure, you might not yet fully appreciate.

I've seen the light. Syndication will clearly be a major part of what happens next in the computer world. Already my ability to read Web sites has increased ten fold (I now read about 640 RSS feeds in the time it used to take me to read less than 60 HTML-based Web sites).

You think RSS isn't changing things? Heck, just look at politics. Here's a new RSS news aggregator that one of the top presidential candidates, Howard Dean, is using to push news out to his followers.

The fact that Harvard now owns the RSS specification will let Harvard play in a whole new realm of technology that our society will use. That is if Harvard doesn't blow it between now and 2005.

That's what this letter is all about.

Today Harvard's spec, RSS 2.0, is the leader in the syndication race. But, if everything remains the way it is today, RSS won't be on top for long.

Why not?

Because the market is changing. Just over the weekend there was a corner turn in the Atom camp. Atom is a format (and an API) that competes with RSS. Why is that? Because Atom started with the RSS spec and improved on it. What was the corner turn? Over the weekend Sam Ruby shipped a set of slides that spelled out quite clearly just how it is better.

That alone didn't mean much. But, today, my favorite news aggregator (NewsGator) supports both Atom and RSS. NewsGator is built on Microsoft's .NET platform. Why is that important? Well, today it might not seem to be. But, we're building our next version of Windows (code-named Longhorn) and Longhorn gives tons of new capabilities to .NET developers that haven't existed before.

Why is that a problem? Because Microsoft's developers are starting to compare RSS 2.0 and Atom and I'm seeing more and more of them switch to Atom because of the advantages laid out in Sam Ruby's slides.

What does that trend mean? Well, the value of the gift that Dave Winer gave you is going down every day. It might not look important today. Very few people are supporting Atom today. Well, except for Google, Six Apart, and IBM. Do they matter to this industry? Will the products they ship have an impact on the weblogging and syndication markets? To the Internet itself? You betcha!

Which is why I'm writing this letter. It's a roadmap of how Harvard will end up being the syndication leader in 2006, instead of Atom, er Google and IBM.

Here's what I'd do if I were at Harvard and in charge of the RSS spec:

1) Announce there will be an RSS 3.0 and that it will be the most thought-out syndication specification ever.

2) Announce that RSS 3.0 will ship on July 1, 2005. That date is important. For one, 18 months is long enough to really do some serious work. For two, RSS 3.0 should be positioned as "the best way to do syndication on Microsoft's Longhorn." The betas for Longhorn should really be rocking by that date, so you'll have tons of new developers trying to build innovative things for Longhorn. More on that later. For three, it would freeze the market for 18 months because "Mr. Safe" will not want to move away from RSS before he sees what the future of RSS will be. Also, "Mr. Safe" will want to stick on a platform that will be compatible with RSS 3.0. Today that platform is RSS 2.0.

3) Open up a mailing list, a wiki, and a weblog to track progress on RSS 3.0 and encourage community inclusion.

4) Work with Microsoft to ensure that RSS 3.0 will be able to take advantage of Longhorn's new capabilities (in specific, focus on learning Indigo and WinFS). Build a prototype (er, have MSN build one) that would demonstrate some of the features of RSS 3.0 -- make this prototype so killer that it gets used on stage at the Longhorn launch (in fact, make it even better than that, so it gets included with every copy of Longhorn that's shipped).

5) Make sure RSS 3.0 is simply the best-of-breed syndication protocol. Translation: don't let Microsoft or Google come up with a better spec that has more features.

Why would you do all of this?

Well, imagine what'll happen to Harvard's name recognition if your syndication format gets demonstrated on stage by Bill Gates? Imagine where future software engineering students will want to attend. Harvard or Stanford? Hmmm. Stanford generated Google. You do the math. How much does a single student pay nowadays? $150,000+ to attend Harvard for four years? How many students decide to attend Stanford because that's where Google and Yahoo were started?

But, it'd take some vision. It'd take some chutzpah.

Of course, if you don't have the vision, that's OK. Atom is there to take over if you fumble the football.

Ah, while I was away Sam Ruby put up a bunch of info about Atom (the new syndication format that competes with RSS, both 1.0 and 2.0). Finally some answers as to what's better about Atom. I still wonder what would happen if Microsoft wrote those same slides? Imagine we take Atom's spec and then demonstrate 20 places we could improve Atom as justification for coming up with a new spec?

Where does it end? I don't know. But, how is this not "embrace and extend" only this time Microsoft isn't behind it. So, if Atom is supported by the community (which I think it is getting quite a bit of support since IBM and Google and SixApart are behind this new spec) what justification will there be when another group comes in and gets support for yet another new spec going? Forget Microsoft for a minute. There are other players in the marketplace too. What will eBay do? Amazon? The other search engine companies (think they won't want to come up with something that "embraces and extends" what Google is using?)? Yahoo? Reuters? Associated Press? CNN? Disney? All the cell phone players? They all have big stakes in the syndication business.

Now that the syndication business has forked why won't it fork again and again and again?

Oh well. For now I'm sticking with RSS 2.0 until the market forces me to fork along.

Long weekend. It started out by giving my airplane seat to Bittorrent's inventor Bram Cohen so his family could sit together (who said us Microsofties aren't nice?) took on steam when I was invited to Marc Canter's new home and met Fred Davis. Fred was editor of Mac User magazine back in the days when the Mac was on top of the world (mid-80s). Wild. Marc's publishing again, by the way. His laptop died, he had to move, and he was without broadband for a few weeks. Yes, that's my idea of hell.

Update: I pulled a bunch of stuff about Maryam's mom. Why? I don't know. Just doesn't seem to fit here. She's having it rough, we visited her at Stanford Hospital yesterday. Great place and great staff. Thanks for all your continued best wishes. Going into this holiday season, think about those that are having a rough time. Maryam's mom isn't the only one. In one room alone are some real tough cases. Enjoy every minute you're alive. At least that's the message I got.

I'm very thankful for Maryam and my son. When they aren't in my life, life simply isn't as fun.

Anyway, my Cable Modem is still down. Comcast is on it. Hopefully will be able to post more tomorrow night.

I will make one prediction, though. George Bush will be reelected. Why do I say that? "It's the economy, stupid." The economy is coming back. People vote their pocketbooks. Eleven months from now when everyone has a job again, we'll all forget about the first part of George's first term.

Getting Saddam helped too. Why? Watch the markets.

Oh, if you wanted news on Saddam, you're in the wrong place. Go to Instapundit instead.

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Robert Scoble works at Microsoft. Everything here, though, is his personal opinion and is not read or approved before it is posted. No warranties or other guarantees will be offered as to the quality of the opinions or anything else offered here.

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© Copyright 2004 Robert Scoble Last updated: 1/3/2004; 3:27:08 AM.