Tom Biro pointed me to this story from Microsoft’s Robert Scoble. Seems a group of Microsoft’s Internet Explorer developers took a road trip to Mozilla headquarters to have a chat about coming up with a standard icon for RSS/XML feeds. The one they decided on, to be integrated into IE7 whenever it appears, is pictured to the left and is essentially what Mozilla currently uses in the Firefox browser.
While I think it’s great that the two parties have come to some form of consensus (even if it is notable as a measure of just how far Microsoft’s influence has waned) it is, in essence, pointless. The parties that need to be involved in making sure RSS is widely adopted are not the browser developers or other tech folk, it’s the publishers. Most people’s first experience with RSS is going to be through visiting their favorite blog or news site. If they don’t understand it at that point they’ll never get to trying to integrate it into their browser or reader or whatever else they use.
The better thing for the public would be more information on the sites publishing these RSS feeds. The education needs to begin there. Browser developers and aggregators need to make sure their tools work with the disparity and variety of chicklets/icons/formats that appear on those sites and then it will be ready for mass adoption. So I’m not going to get excited about two developer teams talking amongst themselves. I’ll wait for Microsoft to make sure their users understand and can use RSS wherever and however they might find it.