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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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scriptingnews1mail at gmail dot com.




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September 2010

Aug   Oct


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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.

How to use open formats Permalink.

A picture named tryHarder.jpgA couple of months ago an exec from a big tech company asked me to write about how to create standards, or how to work openly or collaboratively. There are lots of names for what we do, lots of ways to describe it. So I wrote a piece, and promised to write more.

Then on Friday I reblogged a comment I read on Stack Overflow because I thought it was a wise summary of what could be learned from the Atom community's attempt to overthrow RSS.

You had to tilt your head at a very odd angle to miss the raging torrent that RSS had become. Only if you missed that would you think that it could be replaced. Atom criticized RSS for being too fragmented, too fought-over, only to further fragment it, and fight over it even more.

In the comments of that post I added three things that I've wanted to say for a long time. I even wanted to put some of them in the RSS 2.0 spec, but decided against it, because it wouldn't be understood (I felt) by most people who read specs.

Here are the three things:

1. If it hurts when you do it, stop doing it.

2. Shut up and eat your vegetables.

3. Assume people have common sense.

One of the few criticisms the Atom folk hurled at RSS was that there was no way to know if a title had markup.

Most feed developers, if they ever tried to put markup in a title and failed to have it understood by an aggregator, seem to have applied rule #1.

A picture named cage2.jpgThat's one of the big rules of technology. Yes, it would be better if specs warned you off, or made it illegal so a validator could warn you about it (hey a validator could even if it's not in the spec). But like software, no spec is perfect. No spec writer anticipates everything. So you have to use common sense when interpreting the trail of clues left behind.

Number 2 says you have to choose between being a person who hangs out on mail lists talking foul about people and their work, or plowing ahead and making software anyway even though you're dealing with imperfection. If you're serious about software, at some point you just do what you have to do. You accept that the format won't do everything anyone could ever want it to do. Realize that's how they were able to ship it, by deciding they had done enough and not pushing it any further.

And item #3 says at some point just give up trying to please the lawyers and list inhabitants, and work for the people who are willing to avoid the things that hurt and people who mostly do things that are good for themselves.

So this is another howto -- it's how to be a user of common formats and protocols and be productive with them and get past those who focus on the negatives.

© Copyright 1997-2011 Dave Winer. Last build: 12/12/2011; 1:39:09 PM. "It's even worse than it appears."

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