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Scripting News, the weblog started in 1997 that bootstrapped the blogging revolution.

Instant Outlining gets discovered Permanent link to this item in the archive.

A picture named girl.jpgThis is quite an article. Very gratifying.

Twitter asks What are you doing? the Instant Outliner asks you to Narrate Your Work.

It's a project I developed in parallel with Radio 8, in 2001. We used it internally at UserLand to coordinate work among the people on the team who were in California, Seattle, Boston, Vancouver and Germany. We were spread across a lot of time zones and geography, but our work was remarkably well coordinated because we had what I think is the best management technology ever. As the manager of the team, I can tell you I never had a better read on what my guys were doing. I could see progress on various sub-projects, get feedback from everyone, build consensus, spot problems.

The reason why Radio 8 was such a great release was because we had a great workgroup tool -- the Instant Outliner.

We tried to release it as a product, but it didn't catch on. Partly, I think, because people were using Radio as a web server, and it was confusing that it was also an outliner. The mode flip blew up the suspension of disbelief. You had to really understand the technology to make the switch.

You also had to have a workgroup ready to use it, and that may have been the biggest reason it didn't gain traction. It wasn't hard for us to find individuals who were turned on by the idea, but when they in turn had to convince their co-workers to use the tool, that's when it fell down. It worked at UserLand because: 1. We were all techies. 2. I made it a requirement. 3. I was the boss. 4. But more importantly, I had their respect. And for some people it was impossible for them to get on board, they just weren't that organized or systematic in their work, but that may not have been apparent before we started using the Instant Outliner, it certainly became very apparent when we did. And it helped me, as the manager, know where I had to focus some attention, to help keep the individuals on track. Wouldn't have known it otherwise, esp in such a geographically diverse team.

Anyway, if people are interested, esp now that things like Twitter and FriendFeed are out there, we could try again. I actually have been working on and off on the I/O tool since we started NewsJunk last summer. During the Christmas break I took some time to convert it to run on top of FriendFeed's realtime API, and it make it much more efficient and much faster. They really do some good work down there at FF. Their back-end is a perfect match for the I/O front-end. (Which by the way, runs inside the OPML Editor.)

No matter what it's wonderful to see people discovering this work, and seeing it with new relevance given the state of technology today.


Last update: Friday, January 16, 2009 at 11:50 AM Pacific.

A picture named dave.jpgDave Winer, 53, pioneered the development of weblogs, syndication (RSS), podcasting, outlining, and web content management software; former contributing editor at Wired Magazine, research fellow at Harvard Law School, entrepreneur, and investor in web media companies. A native New Yorker, he received a Master's in Computer Science from the University of Wisconsin, a Bachelor's in Mathematics from Tulane University and currently lives in Berkeley, California.

"The protoblogger." - NY Times.

"The father of modern-day content distribution." - PC World.

One of BusinessWeek's 25 Most Influential People on the Web.

"Helped popularize blogging, podcasting and RSS." - Time.

"The father of blogging and RSS." - BBC.

"RSS was born in 1997 out of the confluence of Dave Winer's 'Really Simple Syndication' technology, used to push out blog updates, and Netscape's 'Rich Site Summary', which allowed users to create custom Netscape home pages with regularly updated data flows." - Tim O'Reilly.

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