Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Blogs: light on substance?

SeekingAlpha notes: I sure don’t want to say anything bad about anyone else, but I find a lot of blog posts are light on substance, just a rehash of what is said elsewhere, a link to and back, so when I see a nice meaty piece, I can’t help but tip my hat. I sometimes feel guilty when I blast out a 1,000+ word post on something, or a long analysis on a given topic, but when I see Kennedy’s style, I realize that this is exactly why blogging has an interesting place in the future of publishing, news, commentary, analysis and reporting.

In context, Seekingalpha was writing about the two patent applications by Microsoft relating to RSS, and referring to a post by Niall Kennedy.

Talking about US published application 2006/0288329, Kennedy concludes:

I believe parts of Microsoft's patent application are new and interesting (and possible inventions), but the main areas of the patent, centralized subscription list and feed data normalization, existed long before Internet Explorer awoke from its slumber. The content syndication platform patent was filed three days before the Internet Explorer team announced support announced RSS support. What other "inventions" are yet to be unveiled as the patent system's 18-month privacy window rolls forward?

after establishing the scope of his post: This post is an attempt to document the novelty and non-obviousness needed for Microsoft's patent application to receive legal approval.

The first claim of US 20060288329 is to a system:

A system comprising:

one or more computer-readable media;
computer-readable instructions on the one or more computer-readable media which, when executed, implement: an RSS platform that is configured to receive and process RSS data in one or more formats; and
code means configured to enable different types of applications to access RSS data that has been received and processed by the RSS platform.

This claim is far broader than indicated in the details provided by Kennedy. There are no limitations concerning centralized subscription list and feed data normalization.

Claim 10 states:

A system comprising:

one or more computer-readable media;
a set of APIs embodied on the computer-readable media, the set of APIs comprising one or more methods that enable at least one application to access RSS data that has been processed and stored in a feed store; and wherein said at least one application does not understand an RSS format in which the RSS data was originally embodied.

The first paragraph of the Background section of the '329 application states:

RSS, which stands for Really Simple Syndication, is one type of web content syndication format. RSS web feeds have become more and more popular on the web and numerous software applications with RSS support are being developed. These numerous applications can have many varied features and can lead users to install several different RSS-enabled applications. Each RSS application will typically have its own list of subscriptions. When the list of subscriptions is small, it is fairly easy for a user to enter and manage those subscriptions across the different applications. As the list of subscriptions grows, however, management of the subscriptions in connection with each of these different RSS-enabled applications becomes very difficult. Thus, it is very easy for subscription lists to become unsynchronized.

The first paragraph of the Summary section of the '329 application states:

A content syndication platform, such as a web content syndication platform, manages, organizes and makes available for consumption content that is acquired from a source, such as the Internet, an intranet, a private network or other computing device, to name just a few. In some embodiments, the platform can acquire and organize web content, and make such content available for consumption by many different types of applications. These applications may or may not necessarily understand the particular syndication format. An application program interface (API) exposes an object model which allows applications and users to easily accomplish many different tasks such as creating, reading, updating, deleting feeds and the like.

In the cited post, Kennedy did not discuss the published application (20060288011)US 11/158911, filed on June 21, 2005. The first claim thereof is

A computer-implemented method comprising:

presenting a user interface having a subscription control to enable a user to subscribe to a feed;

receiving, via the user interface, a user selection of the subscription control;

and responsive to receiving the user's selection, initiating a feed subscription process.


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