Using OPML for RSS
Dave Winer is often credited as one of the pioneers of RSS and podcasting. He was also instrumental in the creation of the OPML (Outline Processor Markup Language) format.
OPML is a type of XML format originally designed for outlines. Its structure makes it suitable for representing hierarchical information, and it quickly found a niche in representing lists of RSS feeds, often referred to as "reading lists."
Here's a brief rundown on how Dave Winer used OPML for lists of feeds:
Reading Lists: Instead of manually subscribing to each RSS feed individually, users could download an OPML file containing a collection of feeds. This OPML file could be imported into an RSS reader, which would then automatically subscribe the user to all the feeds listed in the file. This was a convenient way for people to share and disseminate collections of their favorite RSS feeds.
Directory Structure: Given the hierarchical nature of OPML, it could represent not just flat lists of feeds but also folders or categories of feeds. This was particularly useful for organizing large numbers of feeds or for curating lists around specific themes or topics.
Interoperability: The use of a standard format like OPML allowed for interoperability between different RSS readers and software. If you decided to switch your RSS reader, for instance, you could easily export your list of feeds from one application and import it into another.
Sharing and Collaboration: Because of the simplicity of the OPML format, it became easy for individuals and organizations to publish their own reading lists and for others to collaborate on curated lists of feeds.
Extensibility: OPML's structure allowed for the addition of extra metadata, if necessary. While the core purpose was for outlining, its flexible nature meant it could be adapted and extended for various other purposes beyond just RSS feed lists.
In summary, Dave Winer and others recognized the potential of OPML as a versatile format for representing structured data, and they leveraged its capabilities to simplify and enhance the experience of managing and sharing RSS feeds.