15
Aug/05

RSS Brand Web Feed?


Interesting developing story regarding adoption of generic/descriptive terms:

RSS is a file format used to create feeds (Wikipedia on RSS here).  Reasonable people will differ on this point but I’ll say that RSS is on the cusp of mainsteam consciousness, if not acceptance, and smart money is gathering behind it as a Next Big Thing. That being said, RSS is not the only XML format for feeds.

Dave Winer, publisher of the RSS 2.0 spec, has begun a discussion criticizing Microsoft and others for beginning to utilize terms such as WEB FEED rather than RSS.

Robert Scoble of Microsoft has responded, as have others.  On a nomenclature point, I, wearing my trademark lawyer tunnel-vision specs, winced at the term ‘RSS Branding,’ but it’s not altogether wrong to use the term ‘brand.’  A symbol identifying a standard can function as a certification trademark and in a marketing sense, as a brand.

Bearing in mind that there are competitors to the RSS standard (such as Atom), certain questions come to mind:

1.  What is the most user-friendly term for RSS?

2.  What is the most user-friendly term for the larger category, namely XML-based feeds?

3.. Are vendors in this multi-standard environment correctly identifying the standard(s) they use?

4. Should an architecture review board of some type sort this out, or should the market?

I am reminded of what happened with domain names.  Some people began using WEB ADDRESS as a user-friendlier term than UNIFORM RESOURCE LOCATOR (or URL).  Fair enough, but then NSI began stating ‘Register your web address with us’ which is either imprecise or flat-out wrong, depending on your views toward NSI.  For what its worth, my mother-in-law, who connects to AOL using dial-up, used the term URL correctly the other day

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