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First, a joke I heard about Google and Microsoft. The Google guy says they've been hiring people away from Microsoft.
Written by Steve Gillmor, Contributor

First, a joke I heard about Google and Microsoft. The Google guy says they've been hiring people away from Microsoft. Then the Microsoft guy says they've been hiring people away from Google. Then he says, "Guess who's getting the better deal."

Microsoft the white hat. You bet, folks. Microsoft not only opened the kimono, they came back to criticism and said, no problem--we'll fix it. Winer and Scoble both call me back from the edge with intimations of BigCo attention-paying, and the so-called little guys are squaring the wagons. I can't name names but everyone is in the RSS game now, and that makes open the keyword of the moment.

Open Media 100. Now there's a kick. I've been slogging along in the shadows of the Udells and the Searls and the brother for so long, I never thought to look at the list until someone pointed it out at Supernova. The shout-outs from Winer and Curry meant a lot to me too, not so much for my ego, which will never be happy, but because it teaches people to pay attention to what I've been saying for a long time. Now that RSS is officially endowed, attention is bearing watching. Whether it's attention.xml or something more organic and ad hoc as the other Adam says, it not only doesn't matter but will not be used as an excuse to divert attention from the fact that we own our own gestures of attention.

Speaking of black hats on attention, a ray of sunshine in Google's open source video player. Finally we have a seed for video content to model (mostly) the MP3 format. Correct me if I'm wrong, Doc, but doesn't the proliferation of video on an open model allow us to break the Windows Media cartel? It's another piece of the "watch what I do, not what I say" architecture. It's like a massively-distributed game of chicken. Here's how it works:

Yahoo goes RSS, with a training wheels version that "scales up" to the same A-List level Apple's podosphere does. Dive deep, and you switch... to Bloglines/Ask Jeeves/IAC.

Bloglines/Newsgator/Pluck break when the news explodes. In the last week, we've seen Microsoft teleport themselves to 2010, Apple beat their iTunes deadline by a month, and the Supreme Court carve out a huge win for the P2P clueful, namely Skype. Net net: I'm overwhelmed by quality on top of quantity. Relevance is the byword, and attention is the lingua franca. Who can play that game? Rojo is already in the hunt. Startups are flooding my Gmail. Off the record, everybody gets it. On the record, it's always darkest before dawn.

Winer demoes the OPML editor. Microsoft announces a collaboration with Winer, and indemnification from Larry Lessig. A slick synchronization engine for micro-content, with an open API for Firefox to dig into. Who signed this check? Sinofsky? No way. Raikes, nope. Allchin? You bet.

Now that's a big deal. No matter how you want to dress this up, Microsoft's developers will make RSS the center of the Longhorn desktop, if only to keep their user base from defecting to Ajax en masse. Outlook just got drop-kicked into Lake Washington. Jim Allchin did not stay where he is by misreading the tea leaves. When Bill signalled RSS, Jim paid attention. Jim also noticed Google, Yahoo, and Skype have a wide-open shot at Office that forces Redmond to attack the three where it hurts.

Going RSS puts Yahoo back in the pack again, certainly behind Microsoft and likely behind IAC. And the bow to Winer and RSS 2.0's market force brings them closer to alignment with Apple around enclosures and creates an "everybody but Google" mulch for standards. The longer Google stays mum about attention, the more Microsoft sows doubt in users' minds about those who Roach Motel their metadata. Poor Marc Lucovsky, getting tarred with the same brush. Will the new coalition of the willing stomp Hailstorm II? Will Google continue to stonewall Greasmonkey? Yikes.

And Skype? Just like the subtle players on Big Brother who stay beneath the radar until they can't avoid being noticed, Skype's playing the slickest game of all. Three years ago, Mike Vizard and I used to play the game of asking vendors a trick question: Are you looking at SOAP acceleration? Almost from the start, we got people saying yes, or we're thinking about it, or not yet, but it's on our radar. Today, it's a check-off on the enterprise service bus. Today, I asked a Sun executive whether the new open source ESB would be a good transport for an RSS engine. He didn't know that I was triangulating him with Redmonk's O'Grady and Governor. And then I asked him the new trick question: Have you thought about integrating Skype with the newly open-sourced developer collaboration tools as a notification layer for new micro-content?

Amazingly, he said they'd looked at it, but haven't figured out what more they get than just having the two run along side each other. Dunno, Joe, guess you haven't been reading Udell recently.

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