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About the author

A picture named daveTiny.jpgDave 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.

Contact me

scriptingnews1mail at gmail dot com.




My sites
Recent stories

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My 40 most-recent links, ranked by number of clicks.

My bike

People are always asking about my bike.

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Here's a picture.


July 2010

Jun   Aug


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FYI: You're soaking in it. :-)

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Dave Winer's weblog, started in April 1997, bootstrapped the blogging revolution.

Inception is disappointing Permalink.

I had to see Inception on opening day, even though the reviewers said it was a disappointment. They were right.

I had to see it anyway because it starred Leonardo di Caprio and Ellen Page, but it's not a very great movie, in fact it's downright embarrassing in spots. Low suspension of disbelief.

The special effects are good in the beginning, and there are a few interesting psychological twists, but a plot that required way too much explaining, and wasn't very interesting.

If you haven't seen Memento, see it instead. You can see Christopher Nolan trying to recapture some of that magic, but it doesn't happen.

Are Wordpress themes necessarily open source? Permalink.

A picture named gecko.jpgAn interesting question has come up in the Wordpress community.

I am writing about it before I've heard both sides, so I can say what I think without being influenced by other points of view. Later I will try to absorb them and see if I change my mind.

As I understand it, Wordpress allows designers to create packages of templates, styles and scripts that, taken together, configure Wordpress in a thematic way. These themes make the difference between site that looks like my Frontier News site and the memorial site for my father. My Droidie site has a Wordpress theme that makes it look like it is managed with Drupal.

This is not a new idea. Manila has themes. Tumblr does. Imho, any serious blogging tool not only gives the user the ability to customize the look and feel, but also offers itself as a platform to serious users who then package the configuration up so that other, less skilled users, can use them. (An aside, this is one of the things that's seriously missing from Twitter -- there's no way for designers to participate in its ecosystem.)

On one side are the authors of Wordpress, a GPL product, who say that these packages must also be GPL, because of the virality of the GPL. And on the other side are at least some of the theme developers who say they are new works, do not contain any of the GPL'd code, and therefore are not necessarily GPL.

Well, there's certainly a line in there somewhere. I think it's obvious, for example, that you can write a closed source app that runs on Linux. But the OS loads the app, it calls routines in the app when the user clicks a key or moves the mouse or pulls down a menu.

Python is open source, is anyone saying that any app written in Python therefore must be?

The program counter of the CPU crosses lines-of-license millions of times every second on the computer I'm using right now. The editor I'm using is GPL. The kernel of the OS is FreeBSD which is open source. Inbetween are layers of operating system that are closed source owned by Apple. We live in a heterocode world. In that way the problem of Wordpress is not unique.

And is a theme more like code or is it more like a document? That's another line. I mean suppose I use Photoshop to edit a graphic. Clearly since it's not open source, I can choose not to freely license the graphic I create. But suppose I use an open source graphics program? Am I obliged to share the graphic? Obviously not.

So in this case, it seems to me it's really up to the designers to choose if they want to share their work under the GPL or not. Sure, they've benefited from the work of open source developers, but then so have the developers of Wordpress benefited from the work of others, open source and not open source, without compensating them or reciprocating. It happens all the time. It's the way of the world, you might say.

Further I don't see the harm in it. If there's a market for what they do, why shouldn't the developers make some money, and why shouldn't users be able to pay for it, if they want to? It's not as if there are a lot of protections for this kind of work -- so it seems inevitable, practically speaking, that we get the benefit of their know-how even if technically the code isn't licensed under the GPL. If I can do a View-Source, does it really matter if it's GPL or not?

Now of course, I must be missing a lot of what the controversy is over. That's why I wanted to offer my two cents before getting immersed in it.

© Copyright 1997-2011 Dave Winer. Last build: 12/12/2011; 1:41:52 PM. "It's even worse than it appears."

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