17th level Hacker


Here’s some info about FeedsterMedia, from me, the person who put it together. Cause everyone thinks that they hacked out some kinda super secret info when they realize that directory listings are allowed. That’s just sad folks. Buffer overflows in protocol handlers, escaping past URL filters, even good old SQL injection. These things might be hacking.. maybe. But directory listings, please. There’s another reason that directory listings might be allowed: I want people to know what’s out there. What a freakin’ newsflash, stop the presses! Yep, that’s right. It’s not a secret that we were planning to do Slashdot and Sourceforge and Freshmeat feeds. Unfortunately I didn’t have time to blog about it before we did it. My bad on that one.

Why would I want people to know what’s out there? Cause some of the people out there are really smart and interested in what’s going on. If they can take a look at all the feeds we’re exporting they can provide feedback about stuff I might have messed up, or points where I could do things better. Openness can actually be a virtue at times (in my experience just about all the times when it really matters, but that’s just me). So there they are, right there, all the feeds that I’ve exported for outside use. Feel free to poke around, especially if you’re planning to give some feedback. Say you’re subscribed to some Freshmeat feeds and using BottomFeeder to do your reading and you find some issues. Why would I want to prevent you from poking around in the other versions of the feeds if you’re so inclined? Perhaps at some point I’ll have to close the listings off if information about what feeds we’re publishing becomes an issue for the business side. But I hope that’s a long ways off, cause there’s still a lot of work to do in helping people make money using their RSS feeds. And the less information that gets hidden away the quicker everyone can learn.

I’m actually hoping that we can push out a whole boatload of information about this. We’ve run into some interesting problems. Sometimes they were just simple bugs that needed to be worked through. For instance if you’re a Mac user and have NetNewsWire try opening up a new tab and typing http://www.doubleclick.com into the location box. If you’ve got a 2.0 version b41 or before nothing comes up. Simple bug, but the kind of thing you run into when you’re trying something new. There are other issues, like how do you splice additional content into a source feed without forcing extraneous updates, that are tied up in the heads of people who have been working with RSS for a while and come up with rules of thumb. It’s a symptom of an immature market, there is no commodity level of functionality for something like “handling syndication feeds”. Which is unfortunate because I think that simple public discourse about issues like this could be something that helps out the RSS market (publishers, users, advertisers, service providers, etc) as a whole. There are issues like the feed rights issue that Steve Gillmor brought up that can either be solved in private or solved in the commons. If it’s solved in private maybe someone gets to make a business out of it, if it’s solved in the commons it enables a whole set of new businesses. Me personally, I think the real value in RSS lies well outside of the technologies that move content from one place to another. The value comes more from the side that talks about discussions and user control and remixing, allowing publishers to form news kinds of relationships with their audiences, allowing businesses to find new ways to communicate with their customers and prospects. I would love to power through the mundane technical issues so that we can get on to that interesting stuff.

In the meantime, if you want info about FeedsterMedia just fill out the form on the FeedsterMedia page. Tell us what you want. I’ll try not to fall behind again and to keep the blog updates coming in advance of doing things so we don’t end up with some kinda faux cloak and dagger thing going on.