I finally downloaded an RSS aggregator today; I was just spending too much time cruising tech websites trying to keep up with news. I must say that I’ve really been missing out. The one I picked, JNN, probably isn’t best-of-breed but it’s charming in a slightly broken way. Having all of the articles from a bunch of websites available in a single view is really a time-saver.
Now that I’m aggregating XML feeds, I find myself back in standards hell – evidently there are no fewer than three formats for content feeds – RSS, RDF and Atom. If you count all the various 0.9x iterations of RSS, there are even more. I’m not sure how many of these JNN supports at the moment, but it evidently doesn’t like pdabuzz.com’s RSS 2.0 feed.
As Tannenbaum wrote in his classic Computer Networks book (which I have yet to read):
The nice thing about standards is that there are so many to choose from. And if you really don’t like all the standards you just have to wait another year until the one arises you are looking for.
That was true back in 1988 when Tannenbaum wrote it, and it’s true today. I haven’t had a chance to sort out the advantages and disadvantages of each kind of feed yet, so I can’t comment on which I think is better. I don’t think any of them are going to go away anytime soon, so I probably don’t need to hurry with that evaluation.