I wasn't in the RSS wars, either, but I was on the Atom working group. That was a bunch of volunteers making a clean, testable spec for RSS functionality (http://www.ietf.org/rfc/rfc4287). RSS 2.0 has some bad ambiguities, especially around ampersand and entities in titles. The default has changed over the years and clients do different, incompatible things.
GData is just a way to do search result stuff that we would need anyway. It is standard set of URL parameters for query, start-index, and categories, and a few Atom extensions for total results, items per page, and next/previous.