OSCON '06 Review Three: Dangerous Indifference
31 July 2006
Atom and the Atom Publishing Protocol was discussed in various forms and fashions. I'll post later about Tim Bray's session specifically on the Atom Publishing Protocol? One session, however, not directly on Atom itself, caught my attention. Rasmus Lerdorf of PHP and Yahoo fame gave an insightful presentation PHP. It was detailed with everything from exectuion performance benchmarking with Callgrind and HTTP_Load to interacting with remote REST services using PHP's dynamic behavior. On slide 12 of the presentation, a Flickr example is provided but claims the data feed is RSS when in reality it is Atom. Harmless mistake. But when approached afterwards by a session attendee about the mistake Rasmus replied "Unless its faster, I don't care." This is a sad viewpoint since Atom, and its accompanying Publishing Protocol, has so much more to offer over RSS. This type of indifference, I believe, is rather dangerous. But the viewpoint also is quite indicative of the general computing population. I once heard it said that a technology has to be 10 times better than its predecessor to replace it. Clearly, that is an overstatement, but has an interesting principle. The question then, does Atom and the Atom Publishing Protocol offer significant benefits...enough to replace RSS? If not, is RSS in such a broken state that it will not survive, leading Atom as the default successor?