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. :-)
I read a post over on the Workbench blog asking about the writing of Leslie Harpold, an early blogger who died in 2006. Her family has let her domains expire.
I'm not glad, of course, that her web presence has gone away, but I am glad that the topic is starting to get wider attention. It's a huge gap in our attention, as blogging has grown.
I've been getting emails from people wanting my help in getting their sites converted from Manila to some other format. It's totally predictable this would happen, but this is the wrong time to ask that question. There's nothing that I, one person, can do to help. The time to ask is when you're creating your web archive. That's when you should be concerned about what could happen to it if.. And there are lots of ifs.
Fact is, most of the writing we're doing now, no matter what tools we use, will disappear, probably a lot sooner than you think.
I'm a very technical person, and I've been aware of this issue starting from the first day I wrote an essay that was published on the web. I've been doing things to protect my writing. Yet, if I were to for whatever reason, stop tending my web presence, the whole thing would disappear within 30 to 60 days. One or two billing cycles before the hosting services cut off service. And then no more than a year before the domains expire and become porn sites or whatever.
This is a terrible situation.
And a business opportunity.
Harpold's writing may be gone. Whether it comes back is entirely up to her family and volunteers. But there are millions of others whose work will not get this kind of attention, and if they want to do something to future-safe their work, right now, there is nothing they can do.
What's needed is an endowment, a foundation with a long-term charter, that can take over the administration of a web presence as a trust -- before the author dies. This is something you can and should be able to ake care of yourself.
My father, who died in October, did a fantastic job of preparing his estate so that it would require the minimum work of his successors. But there was nothing he could do for his web site, and as far as I know he didn't. I don't control his domain, even though I host his site. Luckily I'm technical enough to know how to do a permanent redirect, and I'm fairly confident that even if I can't gain control of the domain, we can preserve his writing. I'm also going to statically render it, so it doesn't require any special software. But even then, even if I host it as a sub-domain of scripting.com, what happens when I die?
We need to focus as much attention on preserving the record as we did in creating easy to use web content tools. We've created a problem of monumental proportions, the hole gets deeper every day, and people are just beginning to come to grips with its scope.