F.Y.I.

Have you ever seen someone fill in the periods for the abbreviation “RSS”? I hadn’t wither, until I saw this article from the New York Times (registration required). The main emphasis falls on the protocol’s possibilities for advertising, so we may overlook the author’s silence on the contribution of various developers to the history of RSS (actually, that silence is what caught Margaret’s attention, and she pointed me to the article) — they do, however, weigh in in favor of Dave Winer, that RSS stands for “Really Simple Syndication” (rather than “Rich Site Summary”). Money quotation: “We need to preserve all of the things that are good about R.S.S. feeds right now and also introduce the opportunity for publishers to monetize those feeds,” according to Google’s Shuman Ghosemajumder.

I’m no fan of monetizing anything, though I’m more sympathetic than Wonderchicken to the idea of scrounging bloggers picking up some paper and iron for blogs they’d be writing anyway. But the corporate sound of the whole article reminded me of the ways that our conversation has changed since I first learned what I’d been missing online. And it would be willfully foolish of me to suppose, under the circumstances, that money hasn8’t changed anything.

4 comments / Add your comment below

  1. I think it’s part of NY Times Style to use periods for intialism, so they’ll always do things like R.S.S., but since NATO is pronouced as a word they won’t used periods there.

  2. AKMA, why is monetizing something prima facie bad? It creates wealth, and more wealth is prima facie good. Or do you disagree?

    As for putting periods into RSS: It makes the NYT look dopey. It’s worse than “Mr. Eminem said…”

  3. This isn’t worth upsetting anyone over, so I hope it doesn’t. If I may pick a nit or two. When Netscape launched “My Netscape Network,” and with it, RSS, it stood for “RDF Site Summary.” RDF, in turn, stood for “Resource Description Framework.”

    RSS standards evolved along two kind of independent paths. The first draft of the RSS format, as designed by Dan Libby, was fully RDF based. But Netscape thought it was too complicated and the compromise (RSS 0.9) didn’t have much RDF. By RSS 0.91, there was no RDF. So everytime a new version was released, the meaning of RSS changed.

    Although “Really Simple Syndication” is as good a definition as any, RSS is no longer an acronym, but a name. (Actually it never was an acronym, because an acronym is a real word.)

    But does any one know what time it is? Does anyone really care? 😉

  4. Bill, I did know of an “RDF Site Summary,” but opted not to include so thorough an array of options, especially since I didn’t know the sequence of which went first (and I wouldn’t be surprised if that sequence were contested, things being as they are). Thanks for filling in the blanks!

    David, my reluctance about monetizing things isn’t as colorful or forceful as Wonderchicken’s, but I sympathize with his perception that intruding the universal solvent of capitalist interaction into a system heightens and accelerates the rate at which that system is likely to change toward a market-dominated (rather than gift-oriented) pattern of interaction; ironically, the “free market” imposes a particular mode of regulative constraint that’s the opposite of “freedom.” “You can have any kind of interaction you want, as long as it has a monetary equivalence.”

    That being said, we inhabit an economy of interaction that’s already satuurated with capitalist premises, so I’m not against people using money to feed their children or pay their medical bills, or to have a vacation that relieves the stress of laboring under trying circumstances. I’ve said as much here before; Marqui bloggers (and the Highbeam blogger) get their checks, no protest here. My pique at the NYT column — apart from the periods — involved the extent to which a conversation we and our friends struck up a few years back was being discussed very strictly as a chance to cash in. That betokens a transition that makes me edgy; I could use a dollar or two myself (most of our friends could), but I’d like to think that more goes on in these pixels than a “monetized” advertising opportunity.

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