Thoughts on Day 1 from Gnomedex

Given the horrendous connectivity problems throughout the day, I chose not to do any real-time note-taking during the sessions. Some random observations:

Dave’s OPML app is cool. I remember when I first “got” the outliner built into Radio a few years ago and getting really excited about it, and I documented how I managed my then blogroll in Radio. That process was a fun little hack, but for me the real epiphany with Radio’s outliner came when it was combined with Marc Barrot’s activeRenderer plugin which rendered OPML outlines on the fly into very nice javascript-enhanced HTML. (Speaking of which, what exactly is the status of the Web Outliner, which uses aR?)

Update: Had lunch with Marc Canter today, who tells me that there will be some news about the WebOutliner concept in fairly short order…

It’s nice to see a renewed focus on building these concepts out — though I suspect for this to really take off it’ll be via polished apps (one suspects Microsoft’s embrace of the format today will ensure such apps will be forthcoming) that integrate tightly with existing groupware apps (like Outlook, Groove or some combination thereof?).

As for Microsoft’s announcement, it’s not quite the “Bill Gates is coming to Gnomedex to announce they’ve bought the Internet” kind of announcement that was rumored… but quite significant nonetheless. As Steve Rubel suggests, with today’s announcement, Microsoft gave RSS the seal of approval that lets RSS “turn pro”. This means that it’ll become accessible to every Windows user; it’ll become a conduit for all kinds of information (not just blogs, but photo albums, calendars, documents) and will be part of the OS, which makes it accessible to every other app in the OS. (For more on this, check out Channel 9.) The cynics point out that Longhorn (the next-generation OS that Microsoft was discussing today) won’t ship for quite a while (two years? longer?) and therefore this announcement is rather forward-looking… but that doesn’t change the fact that it’s clear where Microsoft’s placing its bets — and that will help a number of companies, publishers and users adjust their own commitments accordingly. For those of us who have made similar bets on RSS, that’s a good thing.

I spent the majority of the afternoon talking with a variety of people in the hallways outside the main conference room (for notes on some of the sessions, check out Mike’s notes); my favorite conversation was Jon Husband’s observation that Pleasantville is a perfect metaphor for blogging. (It makes sense, but I’m going to watch it again before elaborating on it.)

An interesting day, and the Microsoft/Audible party at the Seattle Public Library starts in a few minutes. More later…