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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.

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July 2010

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

How to do open development work, Rules 1 & 2 Permalink.

A picture named soap.jpgLast night, at a NYC dinner party, a reader suggested I write a Ten Commandments of open development work.

Even though it reeks of hubris, it's probably a good idea.

I've been involved in a lot of open development work over the last 30 years, and some of it has worked, but most of it fails. When it fails it's almost always because some group of people violated what I will call Rule 1.

Rule 1: All meetings must be open to anyone who wants to participate.

This is important because it means that any control anyone is exerting is visible to anyone who wants to see it. And that visibility tends to limit the control.

As soon as you have an invite-only meeting, someone is going to have to take your word that the process is fair. And the process isn't fair. So, if you say it is, you're lying. And lies are a terrible foundation to build on.

I think SOAP died when it became clear that Microsoft and IBM were having private meetings.

It's why so many of the supposedly "open" formats that Google is promoting have no chance of working in the market. I can't read minds, so I can't tell you why they do it. But it never works. A lie is a lie, even if you work for the largest company in the universe.

Rule 1 is the mechanism whereby small developers, even the ones who aren't blessed with invitations, have a chance to compete in a world ruled by the large companies. (And by the way if you get an invite it doesn't mean they like or respect you. You're probably the fig leaf they'll use the "prove" the process was open, even when it wasn't.)

But a pragmatist might say -- if we made the meeting open to all, and announced it publicly, 1000 people would show up and we'd get no work done. True. I've been in those meetings. And listened to one boring speech after another, and during all that boredom I figured out Rule 2.

Rule 2: If you have a choice, ratify defacto standards instead of reinventing them.

When it came my turn to speak in the 1000-person meeting, I said we could all leave the room this day with a standard if we just ratified RSS instead of trying to create something new that does exactly what RSS does. Even though what I said was true, no one could refute it, we didn't do it. And here we are eight years later and the defacto standard still rules.

The great thing about both these rules is that even if you break them, they still rule.

If you have an invite-only meeting then your work is for nil, and the people who aren't at your meeting will route around you, and if there's value in an open standard, it will be created in the haphazard way that open formats come about, naturally.

If you choose to reinvent a defacto standard, you will still have to support the defacto standard, and it will grow while people may implement your competing format, but lots of people will wonder why they should bother, and won't.

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

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