[Tech] RSS + FOAF is the future
Another change likely to spread through the RSS world over the next few months is the integration of social networking metadata with RSS content metadata. The popularity of such social networking sites as Friendster and Orkut has shown that there is a need for individuals to describe themselves and their relations with other individuals. These descriptions, most commonly found in a Friend of a Friend (FOAF) file, may be referred to by an RSS file using a social networking module. A FOAF file is another form of XML file, and so may be created read by many of the same tools now creating and reading RSS files. Adding social networking information to RSS allows for even more finely grained filtering and searching, as author information may now also be included in the search parameters. (See http://www.downes.ca/cgi-bin/Website/view.cgi?dbs=Article&key=1076791198.)
The future leads to
To be sure, RSS will evolve rapidly over the next few years. Its poised to be exposed to a great deal of rhetoric, and is on the verge of being widely commercialized, with the inevitable cycle of hype and disappointment that will follow. That said, RSS is a technology with a strong future, strong because of its simplicity, flexibility, and utility. Although RSS is not the semantic Web originally dreamed of in the laboratory, with finely grained and standardized element descriptions and canonical vocabularies, it is a technology that has proved itself, and evolved roughshod, though the much grittier practice of grassroots development. There is, I think, a lesson in that.