The XML button orgy got nearly two thousand hits yesterday. Heh heh. And to think that some people don’t like our little white-on-orange friend. In all of comment threads I haven’t seen any recognition of the xml button’s most important function: marketing. What are we marketing? Weblogs? RSS? XML? No way. The XML button spreads the meme that good things happen when information is flexible. Readers, I support your ability to consume my content any way you’d like. If you want to read this weblog in a browser, great. A news aggregator, great. Wild unexpected applications that I’d never dreamed of, great. Good things happen when information is flexible. It’s not about formats, it’s not about usability, it’s not about precision. It’s a philosophy. The XML button is the anti broadcast flag.

6 thoughts on “”

  1. “What are we marketing? Weblogs? RSS? XML? No way. The XML button spreads the meme that good things happen when information is flexible. ”

    Interesting. So that would mean that the XML icon should be linked to _any_ format that is indeed cast in XML. Not just for the purpose of RSS. So FOAF, SVG, XForms, X3D, OPML, XHTML2, OCS, WSDL, DC resources should all use the XML icon otherwise the meme you want to spread fails.

    It is interesting to contrast this XML “meme” to the natural expectation of hyperlinked web documents. The expectation is re-enforced by using blue underlined text, not by enforcing the displayed text. That way a document could link to two other html documents without reusing the same link text. This solved the problem that the XML icon has yet to solve adequately.

    Your meme is better off as a footnote to a website, linked only (if needed) to a page describing all the resources offered in an XML format.

  2. There’s precedent for using the XML button for other formats besides feeds. The weblogs.com changes.xml file is one example. And I’ve seen lots of OPML files linked from the XML button.

    There’s plenty of precedent for using the multiple XML buttons on a separate page describing all the resources. The CBS MarketWatch feeds are one example ( http://cbs.marketwatch.com/rss/default.asp ).

  3. I can kinda buy that, but I still don’t see pulsing orange ugly as a mandatory part of the equation. On my blog, I embed a slew of metadata in my <HEAD>, and make it all discoverable using <link> tags. I further mention and link to the stuff in sidebars.

    I don’t object to making that information visible at all, I just want to be able to do it in my own way.

  4. Andrew: “There’s precedent for using the XML button for other formats besides feeds. … . And I’ve seen lots of OPML files linked from the XML button.”

    There is a problem right there. People are expecting that dumping an XML icon link into their aggregator will work, the expectation is that the user has subscribed to their feed ( e.g. http://email.about.com/cs/rss/g/rss_xml_icon.htm ). How effective can this meme be when this fails because it is not an XML format an aggregator supports – or chose to support (does your aggregator support X3D?).

    Much of the arguments raised in http://www.freeke.org/ffg/opinion/technology/littleorangestupid.html remain untackled.

    As an example of a meme, the XML icon is failing to meet the objectives you’re proposing. Its not seen as a sign of flexible information, it is seen as a link to an RSS feed that readers subscribe to in their aggregators. And if used in the manner intended – as a marker of XML sources – it quickly becomes counterproductive for people subscribing to syndicated feeds.

  5. Presumably the page got lots of hits because it was linked, misleadingly, from some popular blogs. That’s the only reason I hit it, and I’m certainly one of the examples of how it fails entirely as a marketing tool (as mentioned on scoble, it took me *years* to realize that it meant anything more than the random “minty fresh” w3c validator badges – it never even occurred to me to click on it and get a faceful of mangled text 🙂

    (really, “XML”? might as well say “ASCII”)

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