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Bill Brown

A complicated man.

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Dave Winer crows about Mark Pilgrim’s Winer Watch page that hits Dave’s site every five minutes. The Winer Watch basically compares some baseline entry pulled from Dave’s RSS feed with future edits and revisions, displaying those edits for everyone.

I can understand Dave’s point about copyright (his bandwidth issue is pretty spurious since I’m sure Mark’s pulling is a blip compared to the larger RSS downloads), but Mark’s really not adding any comment to the page and offers prodigious links back to his site. I, myself, have contemplated just such an effort because Dave edits his blog like crazy but I never know what has been edited. The only things I can tell is when he’s added to and even then, I’m not completely sure of what’s new.

As an aside, this highlights the power of RSS and I wish the news aggregators would take advantage of this. Brent Simmons of NetNewsWire fame has said that he’s going to differentiate between new and updated posts, but he doesn’t show what’s been edited. It would be awesome if aggregators would demarcate what’s been changed by things like strikeouts and colored text. I can see the problems to overcome since bloggers often use strikeouts themselves, but with a combination of coloration and font weight I think it could be done.

[UPDATE: Mark’s implemented the exact system that I suggested. I don’t know if he read my entry, but I’m glad he tuned up his Winer Watcher (interesting, it was called Winer Watch this morning). He did it with his usual designer aplomb, using a legend and background colors to make the edits visually distinct. Much better implementation than what I suggested.

I’m also having a conversation with Steve Ivy about the subject. He thinks Mark’s app falls under fair use. He says that this is akin to Radio UserLand’s built-in feature that allows you to easily consume other Radio user’s blog entries. I guess he’s right: I remember when Dave introduced that feature and was widely derided for it. Steve called the current use of RSS “text-tv” and reminded me that the last S in RSS is all about syndication.

I think Dave should just make an acceptable use policy of his feed like Slashdot’s and say in it that hitting the feed more than once every 20 minutes is verboten, banning any IP address that does more than that. Or he should just live with it, but Dave’s never been good about criticism (more context).]