Robert Scoble: Why can’t you all use the XML icon?
Ugly. Really, really ugly. Has anyone ever designed a site that looked better because it had a scrunched up, retangular orange turd with all caps, unkerned white Arial Bold sitting on it? I mean, really, orange and white?
Inaccurate. Yes, syndicated feeds are
So are about a
dozen other things you might reasonably find linked on a modern weblog.
Bright orange screams “click me”, right? What happens if the user clicks it? Well, depending on what content type the feed is being served with, whether the publisher has styled the feed with XSLT or not, which browser the user is visiting with, and about a dozen other variables beyond the publisher’s and the reader’s control:
The reader is presented with a screenful of unreadable gibberish, with redundant bits of the weblog content he was looking at just a second ago embedded in it. Reader thinks she’s broken something.
The browser silently downloads the feed into the reader’s download directory, where it is instantly buried amongst the other 400 files already there, never to be seen again.
The reader is presented with the same content on the weblog page, but styled differently. The reader thinks “what the hell was the point of that?”
Listen, I’m going to type r-e-a-l-l-y s-l-o-w-l-y…
Feed autodiscovery is the only thing that makes sense.
If your aggregator can’t handle it, throw it out and get a new one. If your publishing software can’t handle serving it, join the rest of us here in the 21st century and get some software that does. If you need to serve multiple feeds (full content versus excerpts, or comments, or whatever), explain that inline (with, gasp, text) or on a separate “Feeds” page.
But for heaven’s sake, don’t try to shame the rest of us into foisting any more copies of that 36 x 14 abortion on the world.
The Least Perceptive Literary Critic
The most important critic in our field of study is Lord Halifax. A
most individual judge of poetry, he once invited Alexander Pope round to
give a public reading of his latest poem.
Pope, the leading poet of his day, was greatly surprised when Lord
Halifax stopped him four or five times and said, “I beg your pardon, Mr.
Pope, but there is something in that passage that does not quite please me.”
Pope was rendered speechless, as this fine critic suggested sizeable
and unwise emendations to his latest masterpiece. “Be so good as to mark
the place and consider at your leisure. I’m sure you can give it a better
After the reading, a good friend of Lord Halifax, a certain Dr.
Garth, took the stunned Pope to one side. “There is no need to touch the
lines,” he said. “All you need do is leave them just as they are, call on
Lord Halifax two or three months hence, thank him for his kind observation
on those passages, and then read them to him as altered. I have known him
much longer than you have, and will be answerable for the event.”
Pope took his advice, called on Lord Halifax and read the poem
exactly as it was before. His unique critical faculties had lost none of
their edge. “Ay”, he commented, “now they are perfectly right. Nothing can
— Stephen Pile, “The Book of Heroic Failures”