An unfortunate design decision in Atom

Atom is an XML-based document format that describes lists of related information known as "feeds"

I use Atom for my Blog. Overall I’m pretty happy with it, the specification is clear and complete. There’s no weird edge cases like with RSS.

I’m working on a virtual scratch pad/notebook. It’s a mix between a Blog & Twitter: Just text with links, and no artificial limitation like 140 characters. I want it to be minimal, just text and links, no more.

Atom requires every entry of a feed to have a title:

atom:entry elements MUST contain exactly one atom:title element.

That’s an unfortunate design choice: many things don’t have a title or a name. We give title to images, essays, & songs, but they don’t really need it, it’s for our own convenience. Requiring everything to have a name can be inconvenient. Every Email must have a subject, which reduces the value of real subjects. Because instead of a relevant information we sometime get unhelpful stuff like “Re”, “Re: mail”, or “Re: your mail”. If Emails that don’t need a subject didn’t have one, Emails might be slightly easier to sort and search.

Another example: In Twitter’s Atom feed every entry contains the complete tweet in the content element, and in the title element. This is misleading because tweets don’t have titles, tweets are not titles.

Small decisions like that can have all short of unintended consequences. What should I put as a title when there’s really no proper title? It will most likely be a duplicate of information already present in the feed. Unfortunate, but I can live with it.