Ray Ozzie, the Lotus Notes founder who is now chief techno-visionary at Microsoft (and author of one of the recent “sea change” memos about the need to embrace the interactive Web) has a new blog, and in one of his first posts he talks about a new extension to the RSS newsfeed standard that allows people to share, merge and otherwise interact with lists of meetings, appointments, contacts and other info. As Ray describes it, lots of people have multiple lists of contacts, meetings and other data — personal ones, work ones, different levels of work, and so on — and this allows them to “mesh,” so that information can flow from one to the other.
Better still, Microsoft has released this new format proposal under a Creative Commons license, which means it is freely shareable — a nice move by the (formerly?) evil empire. “We brainstormed about this Ã¢â‚¬Å“meshed world” and how we might best serve it,” says Ray, and “we decided weÃ¢â‚¬â„¢d never get short term network effects among products if we selected something complicated Ã¢â‚¬â€œ even if it were powerful. What we really longed for was “the RSS of synchronization.”
Dave Winer, who helped create what became the RSS standard, says he enjoyed working with Ray on the new extensions (described here), and that this collaborative process and what the group came up with was “technology at its best. This is is technology working.” Mike Arrington of TechCrunch says that new businesses will be built as a result of the SSE standard, and he applauds Microsoft for using the CC license.
Niall Kennedy is already working on exporting a feed that takes advantage of the new extensions, and software VC and blogger Jeff Clavier says the speed with which Microsoft came up with the new format, and the open-source nature of it, are a novel move for Microsoft , and Mitch Ratcliffe calls it “slick.” Not everyone is impressed, however: programmer Danny Ayers says Microsoft has ignored much of the work that has gone on with Atom, a more open standard, and is “ringfencing their own territory away from everyone else, a strategy likely to end in tears for them.”