Robert Scoble writes

Microsoft has 55,000 employees. $50 billion or so in the bank.

Yet what has gotten me to use the Web less and less lately? RSS 2.0.

Seriously. I rarely use the browser anymore (except to post my weblog since I use Radio UserLand).

See the irony there? Dave Winer (who at minimum popularized RSS 2.0) has done more to get me to move away from the Web than a huge international corporation that's supposedly focused on killing the Web.

Diego Duval responds

Robert: the web is not the browser.

Robert says that he's "using the web less and less" because of RSS. He's completely, 100% wrong.

RSS is not anti-web, RSS is the web at its best.

The web is a complex system, an interconnection of open protocols that run on any operating system
Let me say it again. The web is not the browser. The web is protocols and formats. Presentation is almost a side-effect.

Both of them have limited visions of what actually constitutes the World Wide Web. The current draft of the W3C's Architecture of the World Wide Web gives a definition of the Web that is more consistent with reality and highlights the limitations of both Diego and Robert's opinions of what consititutes the WWW. The document currently states

The World Wide Web is an network-spanning information space consisting of resources, which are interconnected by links defined within that space. This information space is the basis of, and is shared by, a number of information systems. Within each of these systems, agents (e.g., browsers, servers, spiders, and proxies) a provide, retrieve, create, analyze, and reason about resources.

This contradicts Robert's opinion that the web is simply about HTML pages that you can view in a Web browser and it contradicts Diego's statements that the Web is about "open" protocols that run on "any" operating system. There are a number of technologies that populate the Web whose "open-ness" some may question, I know better than the cast stones when I live in a glass house but there are a few prominent examples that come to mind.  

The way I read it, the Web is about URIs that identify resources that can be retrieved using HTTP by user agents. In this case, I agree with Diego that RSS 2.0 is all about the Web. A news aggregator is simply a Web agent  that retrieves a particular Web resource (the RSS feed) at periodic intervals on behalf of the user using HTTP as the transfer protocol.


Wednesday, November 19, 2003 1:32:39 AM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)

"[...]it contradicts Diego's statements that the Web is about "open" protocols that run on "any" operating system. There are a number of technologies that populate the Web whose "open-ness" some may question [...]".

This is a good point. :) However, I'd say that the "lack of open-ness" of some of these technologies is limited. I'd say that all technologies on which the web depends are at least an order of magnitude more "open" than what Microsoft (or others) usually do or try to do.

On this particular point (of the state of things contradicting what I said, and the W3 Architecture document making no mention of it), as a matter of practice I agree with you, but as a matter of principle (which is more in the direction in which I was going in the post) I prefer to add to the definitions in that document that variety in client and server operating systems is part of what makes the web what it is, even if theoretically we could have a single client/server monoculture running it.
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