Because I’ve been busy with umpty-zillion projects lately, I haven’t been doing as much data gardening as I should over at AmigoFish. I just ran into a case this morning that is a classic pattern I’ve seen over and over. When existing old media networks of any kind – TV, radio, cable, even newspapers – get involved in podcasting they always make the same mistake. There RSS feeds never point their link back to a page specific to that show, but one for the network. This screws up a basic assumption of RSS, that the link element defined in the channel is where you go to get more information about this feed. I can only presume that for all networks, they assume that they the network are more important than any individual program.
In AmigoFish, I have it set up so that two or more RSS feeds with the same channel link are alternate feeds for the same show. This holds 99+% of the time, but where it breaks is generally with networks, who don’t use this pattern properly. I just ran across it this morning with the Discovery Channel. All of their different shows point back to their central page listing shows. This means that I’ll have to go in by hand and separate out the different programs into their own shows. It’s a big drag, but that’s the sort of thing I bought myself when I started this project.
I’ve been searching for some sort of larger truth I can abstract out of this pattern about networks and their view of themselves. In my less charitable moments (like the first paragraph), I impute this to an institutional moral failing – that they consider themselves as the parent organization more important and definitive than any program they offer. It really makes no sense to me. If you have an RSS feed for Mythbusters and you follow a link for more information do you want to go to the Mythbusters site or to their parent channel? I’d think almost always it would be the Mythbusters site. If anyone has some more insight they can give me into how these organizations think, I’d love to hear it.