I've posted a few times now (try this site search) - as you can see, I'm skeptical about the motivations, and cynical about the benefits. Had they stuck to:
- Providing a standard posting format
- Coming up with a best practices document for RSS
we might have seen something useful. Instead, what we have now is a format that has (other than a couple of pointless tags, like subtitle and contributors) all the functionality of RSS 0.91. Soon, this effort will spawn modules that look astonishingly like RSS modules, but with different tag names.
Think about this from two standpoints - one, the end user of a news aggregator. Does necho provide said user any benefit over RSS? The sad truth is, no, it doesn't. In fact, it provides a user experience that looks a lot like an RSS 0.91 feed. Two, how does this affect aggregator authors? It's another format (and, if I'm correct, another set of modules) to support. Does it relieve us of the burden of supporting RSS? No, it doesn't. Does it gives us, as aggregator authors, any information we currently don't have that we could make use of for the end user? No, it doesn't. So, as Mark Bernstein so eloquently put it, this is an unfunded mandate for developers.
I'm sure the necho folks are having a good time; it's always fun to invent something new - even when the new thing has no real point (just find a software engineer and ask if you don't believe me - in particular, find a Lisp or Smalltalk or Java guy and ask them why everything has to exist in native (insert language here)). Looking at this from the outside, it seems to mostly be politics driven. A lot of people either don't like Dave Winer, or think he's too hard to work with. Having read a lot of his posts, I can say that sure, he's posted some childish things. On the other hand, Sam Ruby can be an uninformed jerk as well (read the first comment, and Mark Pilgrim seems to be obsessed with Dave Winer. In other words, this is a bunch of pots calling the kettles black. The lot of them need to grow up and share their toys.
It seems I'm hardly the only one that has a few issues with all this. Have a look at Mike over at Sax.net - here and here. All pretty good points, IMHO. In the end, I'm supporting necho - BottomFeeder parses it, and my blog has a necho feed and a necho comment feed. Right from those examples you can see how much less functional necho is - no way to advertise a comment API. No way to advertise trackback and pingback API's. etc.
In the end, it's mostly just too bad that all this effort is going into necho. That energy could have been directed into something useful. Instead, it's directed into unfunded (and pointless) mandates. I guess in that respect, it's like a lot of the rest of the software industry...