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. :-)
Facebook does some really smart stuff and, in trying to be really smart, sometimes they're really really dumb. Dumb bordering on bad taste.
Give you an example.
I've been reading David Weinberger's blog lately because he's newly interested in OPML. Turns out he's been writing a browser-based outliner. Somehow Facebook figured this out (?) and suggested I might want to befriend him. So I did. Problem is, when I saw the notice I thought it was David asking to befriend me, but they were asking me to ask him. Now that's not cool. They made a suggestion in a place where they had never made one before. It wasn't ridiculous for me to assume it was more than that. Oh well. I would have made the request anyway. But I would have liked to have meant it.
A much more bizarre one is the suggestion, that Facebook repeats every couple of weeks, that I "reach out" to Guy Kewney. Their algorithms must have noticed that he's not getting a lot of messages, and that alarmingly he isn't even posting very much! Let's wake Guy up, the 'bot at Facebook seems to be saying. Only one problem. Guy is dead. Like the parrot in the Monty Python sketch, he's pushing up the daisies. He's an ex-Guy.
Now Guy had a really good sense of humor, I was once entertained for a whole evening by Guy and Erik Sandberg-Diment at a dinner in Las Vegas at some tech convention or the other. He would have had a laugh.
But Facebook, it's not funny. You need to have a way for us to reach out to you and let you know that you should chill with the poke reminders, just in this one case.
From time to time I get a request to help promote a tech product. I almost never go for it, even though I do promote tech products on my blog and in my tweetstream. I've even been offered cash or stock to do that, but again, I won't do it. To me that's like advertising, and you don't see any ads on this site, for a reason. I don't want to dilute the connection with the people who read this site.
It's not that I'm religiously opposed to advertising other people's stuff, I'm not -- it's just that the economics have never worked for me.
But there is a good way to get me to talk about your product. It's very simple, make it work with something I already do. In other words, work with me. Give me an incentive that's meaningful to me and I'll sing your praises to anyone who will listen.
For example, in 2001 or 2002, if you ran a website and added RSS support to it, it's a pretty sure thing that I would promote it. I wanted people to see that there was wide adoption happening. The only way for them to see that is to show them.
Then, once we had the foundation of RSS, I could use it to promote something else I cared about, podcasting. It booted up much faster, because there already was a network of understanding of the base technology, this was just a new application of it.
Going back to the roots, if you had a blog in 1997 or 1998, yup -- I would point to it, usually with gushing praise. Again, I wanted to show uptake. The tradition continues to this day -- blogs beget more blogs. Everyone can point to the blogs that inspired them to start blogging.
Today it's different. A site with an RSS feed is not news. A new blog is nice, for sure -- but in itself is not interesting. Everyone has blogs, everyone has RSS, there are lots of podcast feeds, that's all good.
Now I'm going to tell you what I'm interested in today.
This is going to sound weird, but then so did blogs and RSS back in the day. And it may not work, or it may be slightly off, or it may not be the right time. You never know it's going to work until it does.
If you look at the website of Scripting News, instead of the feed, you'll see there's been a change. It's a lot simpler. All the same stuff is there, but it's laid out in a more pleasing way (I hope). There are little plus signs all over the place where you can get more info. So it's easy to skim, but it's also easy to go deeper. I believe in both ways of reading.
If you have an iPad, try looking at scripting.com over there. It looks good there too.
Now here's the big question.
Could it look better?
And another question.
Could it work better?
In this context I am a writer and a programmer. My design work is finished. My rendering of scripting.com in HTML is done. But, in addition to publishing the rendered text, I also publish the source. So anyone can write a renderer.
I think of this act of open-ness as equivalent to publishing Scripting News in XML in December 1997. That simple act led to people at Netscape building an aggregator to read it. Then more feeds were published. Then more aggregators and on and on. This is how bootstraps begin, with a single act of faith. It's like the Kevin Costner character in Field of Dreams who believes if he builds a baseball diamond on his farm the players would come.
You can be one of the first to play in this ballpark. Take the OPML source of this post and make it look and work great on some device. It could be a cell phone. It could be an iPad. It could be a 27-inch display. You'll learn a lot from that, I hope you'll share what you learn (write a blog post).
And I'm not done publishing content that can be rendered in different interesting ways. Not by a long shot.
The title of this post is my philosophy of technology. It's the only way we get somewhere.
Let's work together!