Niall Kennedy led a BloggerCon discussion on standards for users, which he described as follows on his site:
In the online world we rely on a few standards to make life easy for users. The W3C activity around HTML provides a common base for implementors and authors. We still have to tweak our pages for optimal use in each browser, but a common baseline reduces some of the work involved in deploying all over the world.
The world of feed aggregators interoperates using the OPML file format for subscription portability. Users can post to their blog and backup their entries using the application of their choice thanks to standards such as the MetaWeblog API and the Atom Publishing Protocol.
Open standards create open competition, eliminating lock-in and allowing users to pick the best services for their wants and needs. The door remains open, but companies focused on their users believe you are happy enough within their walls you'll never want to head for the doors.
What are your experiences with standards or the lack thereof? What new standards and interoperability would you like to see companies develop to thrill their users? Bloggercon is part of the user-centered summer of love. Let's chat about the things you love and hate about your experiences online and how collaboration and standards can help.
Doc Searls' Docnographic notes of the session are here, and we have a downloadable podcastof the session.
After opening remarks about railroad gauge and RJ11, Dave Winer detoured to the discussion to explain how RSS works, as an example that regular users could grok it and enjoy learning the techie details. But after five minutes of discussion of whether Dave would walk through an RSS page, it was decided that Niall would take on the task of explaining the basics of RSS.
Following the tutorial, which Ponzi pointed out wasn't totally user friendly, the discussion revolved around what standards are needed, which led to some more complaints about software. Doc Searls brought up a bright spot in standard evolutions, how users are influencing the evolution of user-centric identity standards. Marc Canter said standards, such as RSS, help create ecosystems for people to make more money.
Other standards desires expressed were for a standard person-to-person protocol (SIP, XMMP, Asterix are examples of current standards or emerging communications standards, Niall said).
Marc Canter (pictured above with Paolo Valdemarin): "APIs should be about portability of data in both directions. If you're gonna suck, you gotta spit (Paul Butterfield). It's about sex, life, love. What goes in, goes out..."
Tom Maddox said standards are needed for getting data in and out, preferably automatically. Everything today that's digitized is at the mercy of chance, he said. Several people complained about the hassle of moving from one blog platform to another. Toni Schnieder said that it seems amazing that even with open APIs people can't figure it out. Steve Gillmor said users need to be respected in regards to their digital and data rights. No more walled gardens.