... not really. But some folks are debating whether the public needs a
more meaningful or memorable abbreviation than RSS for the "Really
Simple Syndication" format used for sharing weblog content
and news-summary feeds.
I agree with Lisa
that it's too late for a name change and that the three letters RSS
work just fine. They even inspire some Really Simply Silly discussion,
including the page you are looking at. Frankly, I
have more trouble with the aggravatingly polysyllabic words
"syndication" and "aggregator," but my definitions are longer, and they
use the word "stuff" a lot:
"Webfeed," which someone suggested as a new name for RSS, to me just adds to the clutter of
ugly compound webwords. I say call a reader a reader and a feed a feed.
Keep it short and snappy. Can't we
just call a feed a feed, no matter what is shovelling it -- RSS or RDF
or XML or some new atomized acronym? What will be the next à la mode flavor of XML? Call it all RSS. It doesn't matter. We could say it means "really simple subscriptions" or "randomly sent stuff."
- Syndication: "Sending stuff for folks to read or republish."
- Aggregator: "A program that puts stuff together where you can read it without going to dozens of original sources."
Or we could call it FRED, a friendly name that brings to mind memorably
stylish leading men in couples like Fred & Ginger, Fred & Ethel
or Fred & Barney (sorry, Wilma).
Parental guidance alert... a few lines below, this
note almost says a naughty word, followed later by what some might
consider a suggestive phrase or two.
1: Because the name doesn't matter.
I was once editor of a college newspaper with
an old corny name. The school had a magazine with a cuter name,
inspired by a Lewis Carroll character who did drugs. When I left campus, a new editor
decided to merge the two publications and wanted to know which name to
use. I told her to just get the best writing on campus and print it,
that the name didn't matter: "Call it 'Fred' if you want." She
took me literally. The college paper was named "Fred" for a year or
two. But the name didn't matter.
2: But the acronym has potential.
A friend who heard my Fred story had her own. Her father's radio station had
been taken over in the 1970s by a conglomerate that fired half the staff and
replaced them with a big tape drive playing syndicated programs. Someone put
a sign on the machine, naming it FRED -- short for "F-ing
Ridiculous Electronic Device." A second drive was "ALFRED," for
3: Fine ideas, but all too late.
The more I think about it, the more I'm convinced that Netscape, Dave
back in 1999 should have called RSS "FRED," short for "feed reading," or "fairly
reliable electronic delivery," or for a variation on definition 2
above, depending on the user's mood. But now it's too late. RSS will do.
While on the subject of what might have been, I think that instead of "XML," the little orange buttons should have said
"Drink Me." (I'm not suggesting "Eat Me" for obvious reasons; besides, in Alice "drink me" did the shrinking, while "eat me" did the expanding.)
Me/Drink Me" buttons might be fun, but Brian
Bell's I love
candy hearts come close enough. Besides, my Dad's initials were RSS, so
those images always make me
smile. I wish he had lived to see them, not to mention the "I love RSS"
T-shirts, which arrived about 20 years too late. (I think he would have
a good laugh if someone came up with a "Kiss my RSS" graphic, for that
Incidentally, I would have put this on my Harvard
since it doesn't have much to do with this blog's alleged journalism
theme, but the Berkman server was playing FRED (2) again when I started this. Either
that or there was a May
Day labor action
(Edited and illustrated with that
heart & updated, 3-5
p.m. May 2 and edited little more on May 3 to [a] restore a few words
so that someone in Holland who quoted the first version still has an
accurate quote, and [b] to amuse a diacritical friend with the
correctly accented " à la mode." Enough: RSS is really silly silliness!)