Microsoft has unveiled a new proposal called SSE, which stands for Simple Sharing Extensions for RSS and OPML.
2005, RSS-based aggregators have been around for six years. They come
in all sizes and shapes, some inspired by mail readers, others are
“River of News” stream browsers; some run on the desktop, on laptops;
some are centralized, some decentralized. Some run on PDAs and cell
phones. If ever there was an idea that there would be one way to read
RSS feeds, one application that would be right for everyone in every
circumstance, certainly that time has passed. People need to share
lists with others, and with themselves. When you subscribe to a feed at
work, the aggregator at home should know about it too.
we need some way to share subscriptions between different applications,
between vendors — we need an way to do that that works when the lists
are small, and one that works when the lists grow large. Most
important, it needs to be open, and in order to be really open it has
to be simple, so that no vendor can use their large size as a way of
keeping smaller competitors out of the market. We've seen that when
this happens innovation stops. Let's learn from our past mistakes, and
not make it so easy to dominate a market. Compatibility should never be
a reason to choose one product over another. Let performance, features
and price drive the market, not the obscurity of the wires connecting
the apps together.
Amazingly, this philosophy is taking
root in the software business, thanks to the leadership of wise people
like Ray Ozzie, who I've known for almost twenty years. As you can tell
from reading the archive on Scripting News, we haven't always seen things the same way, but I've always had enormous respect for Ray as a technologist and
because he's a gentle and thoughtful person. There was an outliner in
Notes, but I remember very well sitting in an audience hearing Ray tell
people about it, and then calling me out as one of the people who
blazed the trail for his work. It's so important to recognize each
others' accomplishments, because that's how you build trusting
In technology, so often the technical
solution is completely obvious to everyone. Why then is progress and
cooperation so elusive? Because so few people take the time, as Ray
does, to listen, and then to appreciate the contributions that others
make, even those who work outside the organization you're part of.
That's the spirit of the announcement we both are making today. I can
talk about how Ray and Jack Ozzie, and the people at Microsoft, have
taken something I created, and have created a solution to a problem we
all have today, one that's going to get more serious in the future.
Listen up, and see how they did this, because this is technology at its
best. This is is technology working.
This is how I got into XML in the first place. It was another Microsoft person, Adam Bosworth,
who persistently and gently nudged me into working in this space. The
result was what we're working with today, now the ball has been picked
up by Ray and Jack Ozzie. They didn't work at Microsoft when Adam was
pushing me. Now he works at Google, who could, with a single act,
ratify this work and instantly make it a standard. Such power! One
wonders if it will be used. The same power lives at Yahoo and Apple.
In 1996, I wrote:
“Here's an invitation to truly embrace the creativity of others.
Instead of beating your breast about how great you are, try saying how
great someone else is. Look for win-wins, make that your new religion.
Establish a policy that nothing will be announced unless it can be
shown that someone else will win because of what you're doing. How much
happier we would be if instead of crippling each other with fear, we
competed to empower each others' creativity.”
Now, in 2005,
almost ten years later, we may be grown-up enough to actually work this
way. Microsoft's new approach to synchronizing RSS and OPML, using
methods pioneered in Ozzie's earlier work, and keeping the “really
simple” approach that's worked so well with networked syndication and
outlining, combines the best of our two schools of thought, and this
creativity is available for everyone to use. It's a proud
moment for me, I hope for Ray and Jack and the rest of the people at
Microsoft, and perhaps for the open development community on the