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. :-)
Ask anyone who was at BloggerCon I and BloggerCon II to explain the format that evolved there, and you're likely to see their eyes light up, as they wave their hands, but until you've experienced it, they'll just be words. I hope to renew the evangelism for this format while I'm at NYU, and have access to the meeting facilities of the university.
The format is not far from the Socratic classroom, a discussion leader who pulls the interesting bits from the minds of the people in the room, with no sense of one person being a speaker and another being audience. Everyone is both a source and destination of thought.
The format solves the problems of the typical professional conference, the problem of droning self-important speakers who bore the audience and force the good stuff out into the hallway. The first goal of the format is to suck the good stuff back into the room. Everything about the format is designed to eliminate the boring, self-serving droning. But to do it respectfully. We're not running the Gong Show.
Fred Wilson wrote a piece this morning on Panels. He went on to say what he doesn't like about conferences. I am so sure that Fred would love the BloggerCon format. It was designed for people like Fred.
The format is outlined on the BloggerCon site. But I'm going to reproduce that outline here, and edit it and bring it up to date.
1. We don't have speakers, slide shows or panels.
2. No Powerpoints.
3. Every room has a discussion leader, a reporter who is creating a story with quotes from the people in the room.
4. The discussion leader is also the editor, so if he or she feels that a point has been made they must move on to the next point quickly. No droning, no filibusters, no repeating an idea over and over.
5. The discussion leader can also call on people, so stay awake, you might be the next person to speak! ">
6. Think of the conference as if it were a weblog. At the beginning of each session, the leader talks between five and fifteen minutes to introduce the idea and some of the people in the room. Then she'll point to someone else. She may ask a couple of questions to get them going, then she'll point to someone else, then someone else, then make a comment, ask a question, etc. Each person talks for two to three minutes. Long enough to make a point.
7. The attention is focused on the discussion leader. You can ask questions, you don't necessarily have to wait to be called on, use your judgment. But ask the question of the Discussion Leader, and let him find the answer for you in the room. Experience has shown that when others in the room assume the moderation function, the ground rules break down, and droning happens, and people move into the hallway.
8. The leader's job is to keep it moving. Sometimes this means cutting people off. Don't take it personally if it happens to you, any more than you would if a reporter only quoted part of what you said in the article. Life's not perfectly fair. You don't have a right to be heard. Sorry. (But you do have a right to get new ideas, meet new people, have new experiences.)
9. Since every person in a session is considered an equal participant, everyone should prepare at least a little. Think about the subject, read the comments on the conference website. Follow weblogs from other people who are paticipating. Think about what you want to get out of the session, and what questions you wish to raise, and what information or points of view you'd like to get from the session.
10. This is an unusual conference in that almost everyone participating writes publicly. So we assume that everyone present is a journalist. Every badge is a press badge.
11. All conversations, whether to the entire room or one-to-one, unless otherwise stated, clearly and up front, are on the record and for attribution. You do not need to ask permission to quote something you hear at BloggerCon. Of course you may ask for permission to quote, and you may choose not to quote things you hear.
12. Where I come from, the technology world, most conferences are centered around the vendors. This is not like those conferences. Here, vendors are welcome, and we hope they will help by sponsoring a party, dinner or brunch, but they participate mainly by listening.
13. Most of the people who are talking are users. In my opinion, these are the revolutionaries. Vendors make a living by creating tools that these people use to change the world. So much attention is focused on technology, too much imho. At this conference we turn it around and focus on what people are doing with the technology. So if you hear someone say it's about the technology, expect me to challenge if I'm present. If not, stand up and say "That's not correct."
14. If they say the technology is too complicated for a user to understand, ask them why, and if they could simplify it so we can understand. And if not, why should we use it? Perhaps a new user-centered philosophy will emerge.
15. Sometimes conferences bog down in meta-discussions, discussions about what it's okay to discuss. I want to try to head some of that off in advance by stating some assumptions, and asking people who want to discuss these things to either discuss them here on the Web beforehand, or to find another venue to discuss them.
16. Weblogs are journalism. Not all weblogs, and not all the time. People have said weblogs aren't journalism, and that seems foolish, as strange as saying telephones aren't journalism. It's kind of a moot question. Weblogs can be used for journalism, or not. When people say they're not journalism, I think they haven't thought it through well enough.
17. "What is a weblog" is an interesting question. I've heard people say it's not a good question. At BloggerCon if you have an idea that requires you to say or ask what a weblog is, please go ahead. It's totally on-topic. I would consider the conference a success if that's the only thing we figured out. (Chances are we won't, btw.)
18. No commercials. This is a user's conference, it's non-commercial, you may not promote products. If a discussion naturally turns to products, it's okay to talk about them, but it's probably not okay to talk about your product, unless the discussion leader asks you to. No matter what you must ask for permission, and don't be surprised if the answer is no. There are good reasons for this, if one person talks about his or her product, then their competitors will feel they are entitled to, and pretty soon the user's needs are drowned out by the needs of the vendors. The point of this conference is to focus on users.
19. You are welcome to bring your own recording equipment, cameras are allowed, basically the rules allow Grateful Dead/Phish style recording. Bring your microphone or camera and recording device, and record it and broadcast it any way you like. Be innovative, but please don't interfere with the sessions.
The first years of Google's existence and the first years of blogging coincide. Google started in 1998, shortly after I started blogging (depending on what you consider the start, which is always a subject of debate). Then blogging begat RSS, and then OPML and podcasting -- and so on. And blogs became influential in Google's ranking algorithms, and we bloggers loved Google, and we gushed over them here in the one and only year we gave awards on Scripting News.
They were a small company, very excited. Great food in the cafeteria, and our meetings were always interesting, high energy affairs. Coming out of those meetings were a list of ideas that I shared with them and the readers of this blog.
The most important idea was this -- Google could pay special attention to RSS and OPML files when they encountered them in their indexing of the web. They contained rich data which could be used for two purposes:
1. To make searches more current, what I called just-in-time, what people are calling realtime now. This has always been a big deal for me. I wanted search to be part of news and that means new -- and the faster the indexing happens, the more useful it is as news.
2. Use OPML to allow anyone to create Yahoo-like directories. Open that process up, let a billion flowers bloom. I suspected there was a lot that could happen with organizing information on the web. The right place to present it, I felt, was in Google, not in a separate directory structure. And with users actively relating topics on the web, that long-term probably could help search engines make sense of the information. Another, more deliberate, form of linking.
Now, in 2010, Google is going to start reading feeds, but if I understand correctly, they're going to ignore the billions of RSS feeds out there, and ask everyone to convert to Atom to get more currency in search. You can imagine that I don't like this. I wouldn't like it even if I didn't play a big role in getting those billions of feeds out there. I wouldn't like because I have thousands of RSS feeds on my servers, and believe me -- they are not changing to Atom anytime in the next few decades. I don't think I'm alone in that.
Now a little preaching. Big companies always feel they can push the rest of us around, but I gotta say -- I've never seen it work. Usually the lesson they learn is that they would be better off if they would just Go With The Flow, and let the users guide them. Nothing wrong with reading Atom feeds, but to ignore RSS, well guys that's just plain dumb.
Give up the fight Google. You don't have to acknowlege me, but RSS -- that's a force of nature. That's why I did rssCloud -- for you -- to give you the impetus to do what you should have done naturally, support the formats that the users have chosen. It's not too late to get our relationship back on track. I'm not your enemy, I'm just one guy in an apartment in the West Village writing on my blog. I'm not Apple, suing you for patent infringement, or whoever else you are worried about. Worrying about me is a waste of energy.
There were about 100 people from media, some entrepreneurs, academics, financiers, lawyers, writers. Some very well dressed, and some like me, in more comfortable clothes. It was unmistakably NY, as Boston has its signature, as does Silicon Valley. Columbia and NYU aren't Harvard and MIT, or Stanford and Berkeley. This is the big city, but tech here isn't yet so cut-throat, media still is a much larger business. I found it was more of a party and not so much a chance to share business models as California tech parties.
Thanks! I had a lot of fun last night, and it gave me a good warm feeling about what we can get done in the coming months and years. I'll have more about that in the next piece.
PS: One surprise was how many of the people read this blog, and were prepared to discuss the post on local business models I had written about an hour before the party. I'm always surprised by that. I don't get a lot of mail, and I know the numbers aren't even remotely in the same league as the big blogs. But when it comes to interesting people, well I guess it makes sense that I'm biased about that, but my readers are the best. ">