Dave Winer, 56, is a visiting scholar at NYU's Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute and editor of the Scripting News weblog. He 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 New York City.
"The protoblogger." - NY Times.
"The father of modern-day content distribution." - PC World.
"Dave was in a hurry. He had big ideas." -- Harvard.
"Dave Winer is one of the most important figures in the evolution of online media." -- Nieman Journalism Lab.
10 inventors of Internet technologies you may not have heard of. -- Royal Pingdom.
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.
8/2/11: Who I Am.
My 40 most-recent links, ranked by number of clicks.
FYI: You're soaking in it. :-)
At least some young people have a blind spot, and it's easy to find if you try a little experiment. I stumbled across this at a workshop a number of years ago, when I was 44. You might wonder how I remember my age so specifically. It's part of the puzzle.
Picture this. A group of about 20 people seated on the floor in a circle. A young man, opposite me, says directly to me, "I know as much as you do." It's part of a discussion about the differences between people of varying ages. According to the younger folk, they have everything we have, and of course their bodies are younger, and stronger. We older folk are nothing but older. This was the point the young man was trying to make.
I wondered for a moment if it was true, but then I thought back to what I did and didn't understand when I was 22. I was tall and slim and beautiful. I had a 19-year-old girlfriend who was cute as a button and had a body made of elastic. The sex was fantastic. Life was great. But I didn't know very much about life beyond going to school and concerts and eating, having sex, taking drugs, drinking beer, hiking, reading, going to the movies. I knew I didn't want to go into the army. I loved writing software. But I didn't understand much about the life in front of me. I was scared of a lot of things that now I think it was silly to be afraid of. If I had to visualize myself at age 40 or 50 I would have been completely at a loss. I dealt with it by assuming I wouldn't live to be 40 or 50. It was my way of shutting my eyes to the unknown. It really was unknown.
Back to the 22-year-old in front of me.
I asked him a question.
"Do you know more now than when you were 12?" (I picked an age before puberty, when he lived with his parents. Before he had a beard. Back when college would seem as vague as high school, when he would have had no sense of his future life independent of his family.)
"No comparison! I didn't know shit when I was 12."
"Do you think learning stops at 22?"
It's as if he didn't hear me. He didn't extrapolate. Had I pressed it (I didn't) I imagine he would have admitted that learning probably didn't stop at 22, but nonetheless he knew just as much as I did, even though I had 22 more years of learning than he did.
Over the last couple of days I've had younger people tell me I'm ageist when I say I know more than they do because I've lived longer. Of course I don't agree. Would it be ageist to say they can run faster than I can? Or heal from injuries faster? That their blood pressure is lower or their metabolism more efficient? What if I said they could please a woman in some ways I couldn't? But what if I said I could please a woman in ways they don't even know exist? Heh.
One of the things you learn as you go through this journey is that every age has its advantages. I love myself now much more today than I did when I was 22. Back then I didn't even get that you could love yourself. I tolerate my limits much better, even though I had limits then as I have them now. I wouldn't even know how to describe it to a younger person, it's as if we were different species in some ways. But you'll never get me to say there aren't big differences betw being 54 and 22, even 54 and 44. But I think I could have a more interesting conversation about it with someone who is 44. Because one of the things that happens as you get older is that you learn to listen better. And I can have an interesting conversation with a 70 or 80 year old, one that's more balanced than I could have had 32 years ago when I was 22.
The thing that we shouldn't do is limit what someone can do based on their age. Age itself already imposes enough limits. If a younger person wants to hazard a guess as to what it's like to be our age, let them have fun and don't laugh. And if an older person says they understand electronics and blogging and texting, likewise, humor them. You never know what you might learn. People of all ages should keep their minds open. It might suprise some young people to learn that this advice applies to them as much as it does to older people.
First, an announcement. I've accepted a position at NYU as a Visiting Scholar. It's a great school, great people, a perfect fit. Jay Rosen, who I will be working for, wrote a post on our Rebooting The News website that explains the position, and provides context.
From my point of view, this is why I'm doing it.
1. It pulls me back into academia. A good university provides a cauldron where some pretty great stuff can happen quickly. When I was at Berkman, were able to bootstrap podcasting, unconferences, and take blogging out of the tech world and onto campuses and into politics, all in a two-year fellowship. But more important is the opportunity to reconnect with young minds. Harvard in 2003 was a hotbed of interesting thought. Remember it was in that period that Facebook was born, right there in Cambridge. I have a very strong feeling that NYU in 2010, esp in journalism, is attracting the same kind of excitement. The only way to find out is to be there.
2. NYU and Manhattan are going to be very interesting places in the coming months and years, in exactly the areas I'm interested in. There are projects getting underway that I can't talk about yet, but when you hear about them you'll probably understand why I had to go. ">
3. I have the same feeling about journalism today that I had about computer science in the 1970s. Sure, we had textbooks and teachers, and projects and grades, but there was also an opportunity to invent it as we were going along. Computer science felt like the greatest place to be because there were no older people entrenched with gates erected to keep out bright ambitious young people. That's one reason I gravitated there. I felt equally excited about media, as a grad student, but I didn't go in that direction because intuitively I felt that I'd spend my career climbing a ladder, and as I approached the top, the ladder would be disintegrating. A better way to matter in media, I felt, was through computer science. That intuition proved correct. Today, 2010, is Year Zero for journalism the way 1970 was the dawn of modern computer science.
Over the last few years I've looked at a number of journalism programs, and of all the people out there Jay is closest to where I want to be. Last week, Columbia, our uptown rival (that feels pretty weird, btw) announced they had raised $15 million to study the new journalism. My immediate reaction, which of course I tweeted, was that it was way too early to study it -- first we have to do it.
A few years ago Berkman had the baton, we were pushing what was possible by doing. Now they're focusing more on studying, which is fine, that's what academics usually do. But the young people whose lives we're helping to launch must view it differently. They, we hope, are the ones who will provide the information and perspectives to help us make better decisions, to be inspired to greatness, to solve the hard problems we face. Now is not the time to study, imho, as much as it's the time to do.
I'm keeping the house in Berkeley, and will spend approximately half my time in both places through the next year. What happens after that, I don't know. I just heard that one of my Berkman colleagues, Rebecca Mackinnon, who along with Ethan Zuckerman founded Global Voices, has accepted a position at Princeton. I hope New York and NYU don't mind, but it looks like we're getting ready to have some fun over on the other coast. ">