There Is No Cat

Hollering into the void since 2002

Monday, June 23, 2003

If you gotta ask, you'll never know

Once or twice a day since creating Da Funkidator, I get an anguished note from one of its users, pleading for enlightenment. "Please, oh Oracle of Funk, tell me, why, in the name of God Almighty and all that is right and true, is my feed funky? I use only valid RSS 2; surely my use of xxx (which is valid XML and RSS) couldn't possibly be the cause of my fall from grace!" To which I can only reply: funk is a cruel and harsh mistress. The ways of Da Funkidator are opaque and mysterious. Only after great study and divination can one expect to understand the nature of funk, and even then, one may be wrong.

Or you could read this comment by Michael Bernstein on Phil Ringnalda's blog and you'd have a pretty good idea of what makes RSS funky.

For those few of you who don't get it, Da Funkidator is a joke, a pointed one perhaps, but still a joke. I had hoped it would by my humorous contribution to displaying how absurd it is to assign the characteristic of funkiness to RSS feeds. For most, it seems to have worked that way. Dave Winer even stopped posting items about how this feed or that feed was funky for a few days. I ascribed that to coincidence but hoped maybe it had something to do with the ridicule his practice had garnered, something I hoped Da Funkidator had contributed to. But he's back to his old tricks today. I agree with Mark Pilgrim that his cracks are FUD, needlessly spreading doubt and uncertainty throughout Blogistan. They're confusing people. They're making some people think that they or their tools are doing something wrong when they're doing no such thing.

At this point, I believe that RSS has no future so long as the constant bickering continues. Creating a syndication protocol that isn't called RSS, and that isn't copyright by and tied to a single intransigent vendor, is perhaps the only way to move forward. The ideas behind RSS are compelling, but the current situation is untenable, and harms the chances of RSS to reach its full potential (a point which was very wittily made in the Tim Bray piece I pointed to the other day). Just as Javascript was wrested from the hands of Netscape and Microsoft and promulgated as a formal standard as ECMAScript when their competition made it impossible to use, so too should RSS or its successor.

Dave, all due props to you for your advocacy of RSS over the years and your indispensible contributions to its growth. But you're knifing the baby now. All parents have to know when to let their kids become their own people. It's time for XML-based syndication to grow up and leave the nest.

To anyone who is really concerned that their feeds are funky, don't. Every time Da Funkidator passes judgment on an RSS feed, it also provides a link to the RSS Validator, so you can check your feed on something that actually matters. And to everyone who got the joke and pointed this way, thanks.

Posted at 9:49 PM

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This site is copyright © 2002-2019, Ralph Brandi.

What do you mean there is no cat?

"You see, wire telegraph is a kind of a very, very long cat. You pull his tail in New York and his head is meowing in Los Angeles. Do you understand this? And radio operates exactly the same way: you send signals here, they receive them there. The only difference is that there is no cat."

- Albert Einstein, explaining radio


There used to be a cat

[ photo of Mischief, a black and white cat ]

Mischief, 1988 - December 20, 2003

[ photo of Sylvester, a black and white cat ]

Sylvester (the Dorito Fiend), who died at Thanksgiving, 2000.


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