[xml-h] RSS as transferable hypertext

Bob DuCharme bobdc at snee.com
Fri Jan 24 14:58:32 GMT 2003

At 1/24/03 05:51 PM, Dave Pawson wrote:
>What is the difference between hypertext and rss?

The former is a way to present links and the other is a way to mark up a 
class of links for a particular domain.

People can argue about the definition of "hypertext," but XLink's 
definition of "hyperlink" works for me: "a link that is intended primarily 
for presentation to a human user." The word "presentation" is key.

RSS is a way to describe links for a particular domain: relationships 
between a resource (or subresource--in this case, a string representing the 
title of a story) and another resource (the web page storing the story) in 
the world of news, and everyone's free to call anything they want, 
including their personal blog, news.

If we distinguish between link presentation systems (hypertext, marginal 
glosses, sidebars) and classes of links specialized for particular domains 
(RSS, legal case citations, bibliographic references) we see a many-to-many 
relationship, which is a good thing. A great thing! People can mix and 
match link presentation styles with link domain classes. Hardcoding 
presentation styles to link domains loses this flexibility. If I ship all 
header-story links, case citations, and bibliographic references marked up 
<a href="http://whatever">like this</a>, I lose that flexibility--what if I 
want to represent bibliographic reference links differently from case 
citation links?

RSS links aren't inherently hypertext links; that's only one justifiably 
popular way to present them to the user. Thinking of of them as "links" and 
not  just "hypertext links" opens up the possibilities to do other things 
with them. For example, it would be very easy to write something that reads 
an RSS file and writes each header, description, and linked story together 
in a formatting object file for printing as a hot sheet report. The "link" 
isn't traversed by the reader, but the link's existence still benefits the 
reader, because a production step traverses the link for the reader's benefit.

Bob DuCharme          www.snee.com/bob           <bob@
snee.com>  "The elements be kind to thee, and make thy
spirits all of comfort!" Anthony and Cleopatra, III ii
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