This article was published on September 16, 2009

Fight! Real-time Web rivalry gets personal

Fight! Real-time Web rivalry gets personal
Martin SFP Bryant
Story by

Martin SFP Bryant


Martin SFP Bryant is the founder of UK startup newsletter PreSeed Now and technology and media consultancy Big Revolution. He was previously Martin SFP Bryant is the founder of UK startup newsletter PreSeed Now and technology and media consultancy Big Revolution. He was previously Editor-in-Chief at TNW.

Fight! Photo from we brought you a guide for How to publish and receive blog posts in Real-time last week we knew there was a rivalry between the two main driving forces behind the push to create a completely realtime blogosphere. We didn’t think that rivalry was quite as bitter as it appears to actually be.

A good old fashioned blog war between the developers of the two protocols has opened up over the past few hours and has quickly decended into the kind of petty bickering that’s helpful to no-one.

Writing on his personal blog, PubSubHubbub developer Brad Fitzpatrick lays into Dave Winer, ‘Father of RSS’ and the man behind RSSCloud. Addressing Winer’s criticism of PubSubHubbub being developed by Google engineers he starts off tame:

“The arguments in favor of rssCloud go something like this:  ‘we can’t have BigCo control the spec.  We should have an independent spec!’  Or, in his words: “Google sux”.  To reply to that specifically: This isn’t even a Google-initiated project — it’s Brett & my 20% (or 5%?) time project, trying to fix something we find annoying on the web”.

Stressing the openness of PubSubHubbub versus the closed RSSCloud which has been  around since the beginning of the decade, Fitzpatrick really gets his claws out:

“If Dave wants something different, he’s just as welcome on our mailing list as everybody else (many individuals and companies, working together to build consensus….).  Instead, he’s heavily promoting the largely-unchanged rssCloud and not wanting feedback. Seems silly, but that’s that.”

Miaow. Dave Winer then responded with his own post. The knockout punch here being:

“About “just happen to work at Google” — come on, man — how many people who don’t happen to work at Google can add code to the following products: 1. Feedburner, 2. Google Reader, 3. Blogger. :)”

The sniping between Winer and Fitzpatrick goes on to become increasingly petty in the latter post’s (now closed) comments thread. Winer writes “Stop trying to push me around. Geez. You’re wrong about what I think”. Google’s VP of  Engineering, Vic Gundotra, steps in to try to cool the situation by suggestion Fitzpatrick’s youthful exuberance is the only problem here.

From an outsider’s point of view, the real battle here appears to be between Winer’s ego and Fitzpatrick’s enthusiasm for his ‘baby’, PubSubHubbub, wrapped up in a basic misunderstanding of each other’s product and point of view. As fun as it is to see geeks involved in a war of words, I hope they give up soon and go back to working on amazing products that make the using web a faster and more fun experience.

Is there any reason the two protocols can’t exist side-by-side? No? Good. Now run along boys, playtime’s over. Bickering gets you nowhere.

[Image credit: Animals With Lightsabers]

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