About this time last year, I was talking to Tim about RSS and Atom. One of the issues was how to present the ideology in a way that people would understand. Calling the technology RSS was confusing, because Atom isn’t RSS, so we settled on ‘web feeds’ as a general encompassing term for the technology. In other words, a ‘web feed’ can be RSS or Atom, like a ‘portable media jukebox’ could be an iPod or a Sony Network Walkman.
Interestingly since then others have adopted the idea – The Guardian’s blogs, like OnlineBlog, offer a ‘web feed’. It’s RSS, but you don’t need to know that.
And now Microsoft, in Internet Explorer 7, seem to be adopting the name too for their feed syndication technologies. It makes sense – the name is descriptive and doesn’t show alliegence to any one format. This, alas isn’t good enough for Dave Winer, one of the people responsible for bringing RSS into the mainstream. In his post, he says:
Like it or not Microsoft, the technology is called RSS. If you try to change that, for whatever reason, you will get routed around.
There’s more from Dave2 at Blogography, with whom I credit for the original link. I don’t tend to read Scripting News as Winer’s often childish attitudes to things makes me want to cry.
As you’ll notice, the home page of this site only talks about ‘web feeds’. The feed is in Atom, but unless you’re using a very old aggregator you don’t need to know that.
Update: Ed Bott has an excellent article on the subject:
Winer thinks this is a battle, and that Microsoft is trying to change the name of a feature because they want to screw him. (I’m not making this up. That’s really what he said.) News flash: Microsoft is in business to sell software. The reason some people at Microsoft are exploring alternatives to RSS is because people don’t understand the term. You put an RSS button on a Web page, and most ordinary people just slide right by it.