The other day Charlene asked me to explain RSS to her. RSS is an XML format which contains titles, blurbs, times, dates, and full text from a website. The RSS feed is usually published whenever a new posting goes up on a website. RSS feed aggregators then download these RSS files and alert users to the new content on the website. She turned to me and said “That's the original idea for HeadsDown!”.
Yes…yes it was.
I just renewed the HeadsDown domain last month, converting it from Network Solutions, over to GoDaddy.com where all of my domains live. While doing so I looked up my original date of purchase…January 27th, 1997.
My friend Tim and I went for a meeting with a VC firm to pitch our idea. Tim wanted to rename it something positive like “Surf's Up”, though my comment was that you were bringing Headlines Down, hence the name “HeadsDown”.
The project was this idea where we would use HTML standards to search websites for changes in content and use web standards to look for things in “H” tags. The program would then bring down the headlines into the app and create a link through to the website.
We also thought about creating a text file standard that could be used to let websites notify users when their websites were updated.
Our business model would be based off of selling advertising in the program. We asked for $200,000 in initial start-up funding, which would have paid for our salaries, computers, office space, and a couple of programmers for six months.
We didn't keep on pursuing it, but I really do think that if we had kept it up, we might have stumbled on RSS about 4 years before RSS came alive.
That's not to say I'm not proud of what HeadsDown has become. I use it all the time to update my websites, and our Easy Updating tool is pretty much my favourite part of it.