Metaphors for HTML and RSS

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James Snell’s weblog wrote:

We can name it later

Tim Bray: “The Web isn’t a platform or a database or an API or an OS a cloud or aclickstream or any other of those things.In fact, the Web isn’t even a thing,it’s a mesh of agreements with a nice straightforward engineering rulebook.Play by the rules and you can be part of it and build something great,struggle against them and you’ll look lame and you’ll fail. But don’t try to analogize it; sometimesthe world has new things in it and you just have to deal with them as they are.


Sam Ruby wrote:

Elevator Pitch

Tim Bray: Stop the Metaphors!

Fully Disagree.  Metaphors are perfectly good thing to have, in a P.T. Barnum sense.  And, it is working.  Go with it.

And when people are trying to grasp what the web is if it isn’t a bunch of web services, remind them that the web isn’t a service (i.e., a verb) at all, it  fundamentally is a space (i.e., a noun).

Metaphors help us learn new things, but shouldn’t limit us from creating new things.

I’m reminded of this every time I present emerging market analysis around RSS.  I start by explaining that we think of HTML in terms of "pages", because it was a metaphor we could understand and extend. For instance, we see the front page of the New York Times either on paper or in a browser.

RSS, OTOH, really does change our perspective, because it removes the presentation information from all the "stories" on that front page, allowing clients to render them in new, interesting ways.

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