Dave Winer: How RSS can bust through. I’m tempted to disagree with him here. RSS itself will never bust through; neither will FOAF, RDF, OPML or any other XML-based format. And using a centralised service run by a commercial company? Forget it.
It’s an easy mistake to make if you’re knee deep in the field. Not too long ago, I read through a presentation by a learning technologist who believed wholeheartedly that FOAF files were the future in themselves; that learners and educators would create their FOAF either by hand or through a specially designed utility, and that they’d pass them around like business cards. One template said, “it’s not that difficult, is it?” The answer is, yes, it is. What will break through is subscribing to content and reading it on one screen; viewing a list of your friends; the social aspects rather than the cogs and wheels. You can make the underlying technology available for people who can use it, sure, but most people want it hidden away. They want things to Just Work.
For some of us that’s going to mean extra layers of autodiscovery, metadata and XML formatting, but the end result – seamless applications that never force the user to touch an OPML file or similar – will be worth it.