I came home from Gnomedex Friday night not feeling good at all. The day’s presentations had been great but I really felt like I had little to offer since I’m not a developer and am really just a consumer of the technologies on the day’s agenda. I drove home in a bit of a foul mood – even debating if I should come back for Saturday’s presentations or just listen to the live stream.
But I went, and man am I glad I did. The message the was driven home to me was that users like me are extremely valuable to the process. The room was repeatedly referred to as not just a group on the “bleeding edge” or the ultimate early adopters, but as the lunatic fringe. 300 people willing to try out raw new technologies and create markets, new products, and new ideas from them. This is the group of people who turned blogging into a word that many Americans have heard, convinced Apple to implement RSS in Safari and podcast support in the upcoming iTunes 4.9, and who convinced Microsoft to support RSS in Longhorn. The room was packed with bloggers, podcasters, video bloggers, and developers of web sites like Technorati, PubSub, and Bloglines, as well as developers of critical RSS applications like NetNewsWire, FeedDemon, and RSSBandit. Not to mention inventors of the underlying technology (thanks, Dave). But none of that would have been possible if users hadn’t picked it up, kicked it around a bit, given feedback to the developers, and helped make it all useful.
So, Adam has been correct all along, it is all about users and developers partying together. That’s what makes technology work, and what makes it relevant in the real world.
Adam Curry is on stage right now. He’s absolutely correct. I’m in a room with 300 people and with very few exceptions, everyone has a laptop. Nearly everyone has a digital still or video camera. I’ve never heard of anything like this. Everyone here is blogging the event and those who aren’t here can listen to a live webcast. It’s really an amazing, and odd, place to be.
The running joke here at Gnomedex is to refer to aggregators as aggravators. Everyone laughs when it comes up but the truth is that I can’t relate to the joke. My aggregator doesn’t give me fits and isn’t lacking key functions. Sure, it’s not perfect (what software is?), but it’s damned close.
I bring this up because I just had lunch with Brent and Sheila Simmons, authors of NetNewsWire. They’re a very nice couple; quiet and mild-mannered – which is a rare sight at Gnomedex. One of the hallmarks of a successful software package is the developer’s willingness to listen and Brent and Sheila do this very well. Thanks to them for a great lunch and a fantastic product.
Steve Rubel says there will be chaos amongst developers of Windows aggregators once IE 7 ships:
The news isn’t all rosy, however. In the short term, there will be a bit of chaos. The news aggregators, for example, will need to change their business models – perhaps even as I write this. Any RSS aggregator that dreams of competing against Longhorn (e.g. by not supporting it), probably has little chance to win. What they all must do to compete now is innovate on the Longhorn RSS platform. They need to take it farther than what Microsoft gives us next year if they want to succeed wildly.
Steve, I’m not sure there will be chaos. If you look at what’s happened on the Mac platform since Tiger was released two months ago with RSS support built into Safari, you’ll see that 3rd party aggregators are doing just fine. In fact, Brent Simmons, author of NetNewsWire, has said (can’t find the link, but dammit I know it’s out there) that Safari 2.0 is one of the best things that ever happened to NetNewsWire. Safari’s RSS support is very basic (but quite functional) and if the IE demo today is an accurate representation of what we’ll see when Longhorn ships, IE 7’s RSS support won’t be much deeper than Safari’s (well, except for the common feed list – which is damned slick and I wish Apple would do it). In fact, it looks like the IE team cribbed their entire RSS UI directly from Safari.
Looks JUST like Safari. No kidding. Freakin’ identical.
Regardless, what they’ve done with list extensions and especially the common feed list is impressive and is good for RSS, syndication, and users. I do wish that Apple would open up Safari’s RSS subscription list to all apps. A single, system-wide feed list is definitely the way to go. Good for them.