Tuesday, July 19, 2005

MSRSS vs the world, and .mobi?

Things are pretty busy and summery lately, so posting has slowed down a little. Here's a coupla things I noted from Computer Weekly...

Jack Schofield's article, "Quick and dirty substitute for Soap" looks into Microsoft's use of RSS for lots of aspects of, well, everything:

Microsoft has floated some fairly trivial examples. It has suggested that, if you go to a conference, your calendar schedule could be continuously updated by an RSS feed, or you could have a regularly updated list of the top 20 downloads from a music site. Grandparents could have a screen saver auto-updated with pictures of their grandchildren as the parents post them to a photo-sharing site, or a 'live' version of their kids' Amazon wish-lists.

And here's where I'm confused. RSS represents a rolling list of latest items, doesn't it? This makes it fine for updates and recent things, but for "static" lists - i.e. where position within the list represents more than just a chronological publishing order - doesn't it start to break down?

My Amazon wish list, for example, frequently has things removed from it. Top 20 downloads have nothing to do with chronology - only individual rankings relative to the other downloads. Same for calendars. The only way of using an RSS feed that lists the top X of anything is to throw away the old one (unless you're tracking movement over time).

The photo idea I like, but then it's already been done.

The advantages of using RSS (i.e. a ubiquity of clients that understand it) is one thing, but expanding its purpose is something else entirely. It's possible, I imagine, to twist the things listed above into a kind of "list of diffs", so that I receive a feed indicating what's been added, what's been edited, and what's been removed, but isn't this fnudamentally broken? The point about RSS feeds is that I can fetch one at any time - if I haven't ever obtained it before, if I got it 5 minutes ago, or if I haven't checked it in 10 days - and just get the latest updates. Not the whole shebang - I might miss some articles, say, if they've fallen off the end. It's most certainly not a complete sync action. (An "everything but the kitchen" sync? ;)

So the only way I can see this working properly is if MS manage to "add" their own "extensions" to any of these formats. A nice trick - squeeze "extra functionality" in to a nicely compact format, hi-jack the name, and flush out other clients. Can we expect to see an RSS-war echoing the days of experimental browser HTML/Javascript?

Secondly, I see a new .mobi TLD has been approved. In my geek head, this doesn't work at all. TLDs encapsulate particular types of group (under countries, that is) - companies, organisations, network providers, people (although .name and .me kind of miss that one subtley). The access type - or protocol - is part of the subdomain, hence www.example.com, mail.example.com, ftp.example.com.

Why are mobile phones any different? (Unless I've missed the whole point, and these TLDs are intended for mobile network providers. Not the impression I get.)


1 comment:

phil jones said...