« links for 2007-09-08 | Main | AtomPop »


Bruce Eckel - RSS: The Wrong Solution to a Broken Internet

What are you, the consumer, trying to accomplish? You want to be notified when something happens. We have a well-known pattern for that problem. It's called publish-subscribe. The publisher keeps a pointer to the subscriber, and when something happens tells the subscriber about it. Maximally efficient.

Why doesn't it work? Because the internet is anonymous. People can behave badly because nobody knows who they really are, and enough people do behave badly that you can't risk giving out a pointer to yourself. So we don't. Instead, we need RSS where our readers are constantly, stupidly asking, "did it change yet?" "Did it change yet?" "Now has it changed?" "Now?""

This is a really dumb solution, but it's the only way we can retain our privacy, because if we give out anything that can lead back to us then someone will use it to annoy or trick us.

RSS syndication being pull based has *nothing* to do with preserving anonymity. PubSub syndication doesn't work because the Web architecture is constrained against server-client communications. Along with other critical details like firewalls and NAT.

September 20, 2007 07:36 PM