I might as well come clean to readers of this blog and say that I'm a huge Dave Winer fan.
Here's what I said in Les's comments :
The reason Dave Winer and OPML will win this, is because Winer really wants shared outlining on the internet. And he knows “why” he wants it. He has a vision, and a passion for it. He knows what he wants to do with it. He knows how to make interesting applications with like-minded collaborators.
You can come up with a “better” format than OPML. You might be able to knock off better code overnight. But you do it for a “lark” or for some principle of “doing it properly”.
Winer doesn’t care if its “crappy”. He just has a drive to make something happen, and OPML is the simplest thing that can possibly work to do that.
I think that’s exactly the right thing to bet on.
I've been writing several comments on this topic on different blogs, but I think the subject ought to be consolidated here. Although I'm in a rush so consider this the first of several musings.
The first point is that I definitely bet on OPML to win any coming showdown with rivals such as OML or XOXO. That's partly Winer's vision and leadership (what he's call "philosophy"). And the above point that it's a real application for him, rather than a mere intellectual exercise.
It's also because Winer already has attention, of course.
And it's partly because OPML is already getting locked-in by it's connections with existing tools. OPML, the editor, is a free tool for doing what Winer wants people to do with the format. Blogroll management tools already use OPML. As do RSS subscription and podcast directories. And while I take Les's point that blogrolls are essentially already using XOXO, I'm not sure that is going to be the case for long.
Over at Danny Ayers's blog I've been arguing that the blogroll is actually in conflict with FOAF, and that shifting to OPML is going to be part of that.
(Actually, I said a lot more over there that I need to come back to in a future post.)