Levels of RSS Knowledge

September 28, 2006

I have posted a bit on RSS and while I am not a “super” expert on RSS but I am a big fan and I have posted a bit on this topic in the past so when I saw the following link: “Levels of JavaScript Knowledge” which was based on “Levels of HTML Knowledge” which was in turn based on “Levels of CSS Knowledge” I thought – what better way to describe what I have seen lately as we hire for PaperThin.

I started talking with many smart people who were interested in joining our Web based software company. I felt that there was a pretty good litmus test for the type of individuals we wanted to hire. Banking on the theory that you fill your bus with smart people first and then figure out where the bus needs to go, I would ask our potential employees about their knowledge of RSS. While I would also ask them about their views about the web and social networking and SOA, the RSS question seemed to be the most important. From that I have derived these levels of RSS knowledge

Level 0 – “RSS, Never heard of it”
I almost thought about not evening offering this level to the interviewees but it seemed logical. Let’s understand what this person looks like:

1.) They have never visited a major news site (CNN.com, MSNBC.com, ESPN.com etc…) or if they did the orange buttons for “xml” and “rss” never intrigued them.
2.) Clearly those same people were never intrigued enough to google “rss”.
3.) Obviously they have never seen Firefox and were probably not involved in the IE beta.

Level 1 – “RSS, Heard of it but I have no idea what it is”
Ok, so at least this individual has their ‘glasses’ on which means that are not blind to the idea that something else is going on in the web world besides HTML and images. Although, they probably don’t even know that the web page which contains the “RSS” links is written in HTML. It might also not be a stretch that this individual has also never heard of Firefox

Level 2 – “RSS, Yeah I use RSS for reading my favorite blog”
Now we are getting somewhere. This individual shows some promise. They are probably someone that enjoys the web and probably spends more time reading Weblogs then they do reading the local “printed” newspaper. Ideally, this individual would be very coach-able and probably “excited” about the development of the Internet in general.

Level 3 – “RSS, Just got finished uploading my Flickr photos and posted the gallery on my blog”
Clearly this individual has been using Firefox for over a year and has more extensions loaded in Firefox then they have pure Software packages installed on their mac. This individual may also know about OPML and attention.xml and is more likely to have been the first kid in their entire extended family to have an IPod . More importantly, this user of the Internet can describe the difference between RSS 1.0, RSS 2.0, Atoms and the ITunes podcast RSS. Future CIO indeed.

Level 4 – “RSS, ha – working on 3.0 with Dave and by the way I make 20K a month blogging”
There are really few people who understand what is next for the web and are always active. They are probably currently active as a speaker for various technology pod-casts and have been mentioned at least once on the following web sites (in order of precedence):

– TechCrunch
– digg.com
– Valleywag
– Any Web 2.0 Workgroup blog

I am certainly no where near Level 4 but I work hard.

Oh and by the way as far as the other “Levels”

HTML – closest to Level 5
CSS – Level 5
JavaScript – Level 5

I have been programming the web for quite some time and am proud to say that I learned HTML using SimpleText with a Mosaic browser.


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