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jr conlin's ink stained banana

:: Ralph v1.0

Apparently, the latest word on the street is to call that extensible markup language based data exchange system which runs on top of hypertext transfer protocols, "WebFeeds".

Much like good Mr. Battell, i don't like it either.

Still, i understand the need for a new name. First we had "real simple syndication", which was truncated down to the horribly confusing "RSS", and later spawned Atom (which is not an acronym). The idea behind both of these systems was to provide a mechanism of delivering personally produced content in a manner which personal computers (some of which running Microsoft Windows "Experience" product (built from elements of it's new technology code base) and others running Unix derived variants such as the free Berkeley software distribution) could process them in an easy manner.

It should also be noted that these data files should not be confused with hypertext markup language based files containing tags specific for the semantic web, which are also distributed using specific extensible markup language tags via the hypertext transfer protocol.

The problem is that people tend to continually complain that the use of acronyms is bad and difficult for people to understand, and i agree. Certainly it's far more explicit to simply state that you are using self contained underwater breathing apparattii than to say you're going to go SCUBA, going to blockbuster to rent a digital videoversitile disk or a vertical helix scanning tape, likewise only the most technically savvy would refer to a television console as a "TV" or play video games on their Sony Play-station 2. It's far better to simply specify exactly what you're speaking about (example gratis, neighbors complaining about receiving a metric butt-load of America Online compact disks in the mail).

Society has proven time that it simply rejects acronyms, therefore they should simply be avoided at all costs, quod erat demonstrandum.

The term "webfeed" is an attempt to solve this problem by being explicit about exactly what it is. The file in question is a feed that comes from the web. Any duck knows that spiders and dead flies are good eating, so the term "webfeed" will obviously appeal to the ornithologists in our midsts, and is obviously far more appealing than the less precise terms of "Real Simple Syndication" or "Atom".

Then again, maybe not.

Eating venomous bugs and their previous prey may not appeal to the non technical, so perhaps we need a name that is friendlier, yet still has the same level of preciseness that "webfeed" provides. And that is why i propose that we call machine readable content for syndication "Ralph".

Ralph is friendly (unless you happened to have been shoved into a locker by someone named Ralph), and brings assurance that this product has a certain Ralphy quality, similar to items such as Grape Nuts and Apple Jacks.

So take pride in being able to provide your Ralphs in various formats (even though these formats are not compatible in the least and may actually require using the "old form" of the name plus the version number in order to be useful).

And folks out there looking for Ralphs (or "webfeeds" if you must), you'll be able to have a better understanding of what you're after by the use of more explicit language.

Ok, so maybe you'll just have more explicit language.

Mind the children.

Blogs of note
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