Power of Contracts

 
 
By Steve Gillmor  |  Posted 2004-07-08 Email Print this article Print
 
 
 
 
 
 
 


But its IE, for heavens sake. Unbreakable? No. Untrustable? Yes. This latest series of exploits is so damaging because it doesnt require any action on the part of the user. No opening an attachment, no virus signature to detect. And the only vehicle for patching the problem is Windows Update, which requires IE to auto-download the fix. RSS interrupts that cycle of addiction by establishing a contract between customer and service. Subscribing to a feed initiates a relationship, where services are provided in return for attention.
If that trust is violated, the customer unsubscribes. By contrast, e-mail requires no such contract; the receiver does not have control of incoming data. And Web pages typically dont require an understanding of attention, identity or responsibility.
The implied consent of the subscription model offers a framework for parsing responsibility for security, quality of service and other accountable performance factors. As business models emerge that provide useful attention data, publishers can recoup the investment they must make in providing safe, full text content and dynamic advertising data. It will increasingly pay to port IE-based applications, plug-ins and RSS feeds to the Mozilla, Opera and Safari container. Work is already under way to integrate BEA chief architect Adam Bosworths Alchemy intelligent caching framework with the cross-platform Mozilla. And pressure is building for a synchronization standard to ease switching costs between RSS aggregators.
Still in its early stages, Pluck has its deficiencies: It doesnt expose the full contents of posts in its persistent view, you cant set global preferences for polling feeds or post retention, and theres no way to organize feeds by drag-and-drop. But just as it was so easy to drag and drop my NewsGator subscription list into Pluck, it will be just as easy to migrate away if Pluck doesnt mature. NewsGators proprietary synchronization of subscriptions and read/unread marks across multiple machines is a great start, but the synchronization standards process will soon engulf attempts by market leaders to lock in their customers. Plucks Trojan horse strategy underlines the profoundly disruptive nature of the RSS transformation. The synchronization genie, once out of the bottle, will act as an accelerant for RSS client market share as a percentage of overall browser usage. At some point, perhaps as early as Inauguration Day, IE—and the Web—will be subsumed by the RSS platform. Check out eWEEK.coms Messaging & Collaboration Center at http://messaging.eweek.com for more on IM and other collaboration technologies.

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Steve Gillmor is editor of eWEEK.com's Messaging & Collaboration Center. As a principal reviewer at Byte magazine, Gillmor covered areas including Visual Basic, NT open systems, Lotus Notes and other collaborative software systems. After stints as a contributing editor at InformationWeek Labs, editor in chief at Enterprise Development Magazine, editor in chief and editorial director at XML and Java Pro Magazines, he joined InfoWorld as test center director and columnist.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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