the iCite net > news / blog > a permalink

news and thoughts on and around the development of the iCite net
by Jay Fienberg

RSS, old enough to be having relations?

posted: Jan 6, 2004 6:13:39 PM

I have seen a few references to Sebastien Paquet's The Algebra of Feeds post lately, and just saw it re-published as The Algebra of RSS Feeds on the Java Development Journal / Linux World (all recently noted by Seb).

Seb mentions several of the operators of Codd's relational algebra, and, it seems to me there are two general reasons why everyone isn't already operating on RSS as relational data: 1) it is distributed across many files, and 2) the hierarchic XML structue of RSS.

I am developing the iCite net prototype right now and exploring different cases for using XML vs an SQL relational database store. In either case, iCites need to pull together data from different sources and be able to operate on them as if they are all in the same data base.

XML is nice for transfering data between multiple sites. A lot of the source data I am working with is RSS and XHTML already, and those are also primary output formats for iCites. But, I still don't have a handle on XPath 2, XQuery, and XSLT as a means of relational operations the way I do with SQL.

For example, it is pretty obvious to me how to splice and dice two RSS feeds when I think about RSS items in tabular format (which I mentioned in my RTS = Really Tabular Syndication, my new syndication format post).

Anyway, my basic goal these days is along the lines Seb's post: being able to slice and dice information that appears as RSS. iCites link RSS feeds (and other information) together and give them the semblance of being a single data base.

The main issue I am dealing with now is what types of data structures and formats work best with the various combinations of uses between data interchange, data storage, and querying.

Also, the one other issue, that is key to relational algebra, is unique identifiers. So, in the iCite net, the iCites (with support from the iCNS name service) assign unique identifiers to information. This means, for example, that duplicates can be eliminated when combining two different feeds that each include a common feed. Like:

Feed A + B = Feed C and
Feed A + D = Feed E so
Feed E = Feed A + Feed B + Feed D (without duplicates)

Ultiamtely, what I think of as the real opportunity for aggregation is when common information (i.e., sharing the same unique identifier) is recognized. Then, rather than seeing the same information repeated in disconnected contexts, one can see an aggregate view of multiple contexts.

permalink | comments {3} · trackbacks {0}

also available as: rss · rss2 · rdf · atom

Comments and Tracbacks

Comment by: David Czarnecki ·
posted: Jan 6, 2004 10:45:19 PM

I had put together a "Choose Your Own Adventure" plugin which is not RSS algebra, but it does allow a visitor to generate customized feeds from your site for an arbitrary set of categories. Ultimately I thought that was more useful than intra-blog RSS algebra. I guess it would, on some level, be useful to combine feeds, but honestly, I like the fact that I can cleanly subscribe/unsubscribe at the individual feed level in my aggregator. Anyhoo ... just food for thought.

Comment by: Jay Fienberg ·
posted: Jan 7, 2004 6:54:11 PM

That is neat David. Why I am thinking about intersite feeds and slicing and dicing feeds is that I imagine it being like "you and your friends choose your adventure together". I like your idea though of an interface where your site visitors customize your blog: I want to end up with something like this plus allow people to publish their customization as well. So, someone could see David's view of Jay's blog.

Comment awaiting approval
posted: Mar 21, 2006 11:40:40 AM

Note: All comments and trackbacks are moderated. Spam is deleted. Other comments are approved as promptly as possible.

Note: Older posts no longer accept new comments or trackbacks.

« prev post
Tim Bray looking for a gig

» next post
Taking a bite of an apple

blog newsfeeds

brief content:

 XML  ·  RSS  ·  RDF  ·  Atom 

full content:

 XML  ·  RSS  ·  RDF  ·  Atom 

blog archive

jan · feb · mar · apr
may · jun · jul · aug 
sep · oct · nov · dec
jan · feb · mar · apr
may · jun · jul · aug
sep · oct · nov · dec

jan · feb · mar · apr
may · jun · jul · aug
sep · oct · nov · dec

may · jun · jul · aug
sep · oct · nov · dec

first post: 
April 30, 2003

highlight views:
Spammers' Choice

Jay elsewhere online
Jay Fienberg - the official home page

Wrong Notes - the music blog of the Ear Reverends

Fine & Full, aka, a fine and full burger

Sociomobilepoetextologia (moblog, currently inactive due to lack of proper mobile)

to enjoy roll
sites I like to read when I start from here

· Anastasia Fuller
· Andy Baio
· Biz Stone
· Boris Mann
· Bre Pettis
· Chris Dent
· Danny Ayers
· Dare Obasanjo
· David Czarnecki
· David Weinberger
· Don Park
· Evan Williams
· Greg Narain
· Jason Kottke
· Jim Benson
· Lucas Gonze
· Marc Canter
· Matt May
· Matt Mullenweg
· Michal Migurski
· Nancy White
· Rebecca Blood
· Reg Cheramy
· Richard MacManus
· Sam Ruby
· Shelley Powers
· Tim Bray
· danah boyd

powered by blojsom

Entries by blojsim