Bootstrapping the knowledge network
In the first stage, the tools encourage a degree of commentary and reaction to what you find or create (in k-logging mode). However, it also encourages a degree of stream of consciousness style. Progress, in that it can represent a contemporaneous record of the contextual issues that were top of mind. Problematic, in creating new content that eventually needs to be revisited and processed at a level once removed from the moment. [ McGee's Musings]
It's true that I'm impatient for knowledge networking to reach critical mass. I thought the singularity would occur years ago, and I was wrong. I hope it's happening now, and while I could be wrong again, it's clear that something has changed. People are doing what I spent years of my life and hundreds of pages of my book advocating. They are migrating communication that is not necessarily private and interpersonal into spaces that are public and group-oriented. This behavior lays the foundation for all else that may follow.
We want nothing to interfere with the evolution of this behavior. In particular, we don't want burdensome rules and complex protocols to slow things down. The lesson of HTML, vis-a-vis SGML, must never be forgotten. At the same time, we would like -- if possible -- not to foreclose options unnecessarily.
It's been a while since I reviewed the forked path of RSS. In RSS .92 even the title of an item was made optional, which seems heretical to a metadata maven (like me) but makes sense when you are trying to bootstrap flow. RSS 1.0's approach, which requires item titles (as .91 did), and provides optional modular extensibility for arbitrary metadata, makes a different kind of sense.
I would say that RSS .92 (what Radio uses, BTW) is about promoting flow, and RSS 1.0 is about not foreclosing future options.
There was hot controversy surrounding these differing approaches. But nobody outside the relatively narrow world of users of RSS-oriented software heard a word about it. Just as well, as it turns out, because until there is a reason to care, people won't.
The progress that Jim McGee cites in his posting is becoming a reason to care. Once enough people do care, the problems he cites can be addressed. Maybe you could say that RSS .92 is the booster rocket, and RSS 1.0 the payload.
I don't think the boost phase would be compromised by enabling (not requiring) Radio writers to exercise the titling option in RSS .92, and then enabling Radio readers to scan titles (from .91. 1.0, and perhaps .92 sources). But in truth, it can wait. Until we get ourselves into orbit, it won't matter.
Former URL: http://weblog.infoworld.com/udell/2002/03/10.html#a123