Love Syndication, Hate Drama Queens

This is more techy than most of what I post, so I won’t mind if you skip on to the next thing, but there’s something I want to comment on.

I read a lot of different feeds. I use Bloglines to manage this, because it’s web-based and fairly reliable, and it was the thing I’d been hearing about the most when I decided it was time to move from regularly visiting several different websites to collecting all of them in one place. It works okay, but after a while the folder-based organization system starts to break down. It’s hard to sort things by both topic and how urgently I want to read them. People I know in person => read immediately. Fashion blogs => okay to skim once every couple of weeks. Thus, I am in the process of hacking together something to handle this, using a mishmash of Perl and Ruby on Rails. (Remind me to post about my love of Rails some other time.)

The other effect of this is that I’m reading a lot about different syndication formats to get a sense of what works, what doesn’t, and where the buzz is (main topics of interest have been the assorted versions of RSS, plus Atom, plus OPML which is really an outliner format but is also commonly used to exchange lists of feeds). And I’ve been rather irritated to discover a ginormous psychodramafest surrounding RSS and OPML issues. Never underestimate the group (however loosely formed) ‘s ability to act like a bunch of overgrown 13 year olds. Not linking or naming anyone, because the whole thing is truly idiotic.

I’m only mentioning it because for me it has (at least to me) an interesting technical side effect. I’m going to focus on working with Atom, not RSS, and XOXO (an alternate outline format, also used for describing lists of feeds). It’s my program, so why not? OPML kind of sucks anyhow. It’s an ugly use of XML (putting all of the data in attributes, not elements). I’ll still need code that can read all of these things, but for output? I’m picking the formats that come with the least baggage.

That’s all. I just wanted to say something to remind myself of where I don’t want to be. If you want people to play with your software or formats or whatever you’re trying to introduce to the world, don’t be a drama queen. It wastes everyone’s time.

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