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. :-)
Here's the speech, part of a corporate conference call today.
It's all about Android, but consider the possibility that it's also about burying Microsoft once and for all.
If all everyone talks about is the rivalry between Android and Apple, where does that leave Microsoft and it's renewed aspiration in mobile devices?
Had FIOS installed in the new apartment today.
Verizon lists cities in California where FIOS is "potentially available." No clue what that means.
Preparing for Jay Rosen's class today, I, like all the students, had to read eight speeches given by news execs.
It was a really depressing task. I guess that's the point. Unless I was required to read them, I would have given up on each long before the end. The story is just too sad, and the rationalizations too weak, and honestly, way too vain and self-centered.
There was an interesting juxtaposition. Rupert Murdoch giving a mercifully short speech saying the biggest mistake someone in the news business could make is thinking the reader is stupid. He could easily have been introducing the next speaker, Bill Keller of the NY Times, who clearly thinks almost everyone who doesn't work at the NY Times is stupid. It seems he would exempt reporters at The Guardian, the LA Times and the Chicago Tribune. Probably the Boston Globe as well. Not sure who else he respects, but he certainly doesn't respect bloggers, or seem to understand that bloggers could have facts or perspectives that a Times reporter might cite (though, thankfully quite a few Times reporters seem to do that these days).
For Jay's class, our assignment is to figure out how these guys are trying to adapt.
Here's how I visualize how they're doing it. Imagine a box made of cardboard. It's big, but it's light. Pick the box up and move it from one place to another. When it gets to the new spot, it's still a big cardboard box. It still can contain the same stuff as the box did when it was in the old place.
That's the transition each of these execs feel they have to make. The stuff in the box are news stories. The box is their editorial structure. The old place is print. The new place is the Internet.
I, of course, don't think that's it. Not at all.
Anyway, as I was reading these eight essays, my mind wandered -- and I wondered how each of these execs would explain Wikipedia. How is it that something that is very competitive with the product created by people more or less like them, was created by volunteers, people working for nothing?
Because the fundamental thing each of the speakers has in common, the one possible mistake they're all making, the one variable they refuse to consider is the possibility that other people might do what they do, for no pay.
Bill Keller said it most concisely. "newspapers have at least two important assets that none of the digital newcomers even pretend to match. One is that we deploy worldwide a corps of trained, skilled reporters to witness events and help our readers understand them. This work is expensive, laborious, sometimes unpopular, and occasionally perilous."
The key word in that paragraph is "witness."
They pay people to witness.
These events they pay people to witness are witnessed by many more people who aren't being paid. Could at least a few of them relate what they witness? And isn't aggregating all these witness accounts what reporters actually do? The faulty assumption that bloggers would be helpless without reporters ignores the fact that reporters would be helpless without accounts of witnesses who are not reporters (and might even be bloggers).
And of course, all this expensive witnessing is what they've been cutting. The Boston Globe used to have overseas offices, but was forced to close them to maintain their coverage of local news. They have also been using paid bloggers to cover many of the 200 towns in their area. Did it occur to them to simply start new publications in each of those towns, and let people do the witnessing on a voluntary basis?
If you think it's not possible to have a quality result, then you have to explain why Wikipedia exists, and why a similar approach could not be used for news. This question kept coming up repeatedly as I read each of the speeches.
The eight speeches:
1. Tom Curley, President and CEO, The Associated Press, speech to the Online News Association Conference, Nov. 12, 2004
2. Rupert Murdoch, CEO of News Corp., speech to the American Society of Newspaper Editors, April 13, 2005
3. Bill Keller, Executive Editor of the New York Times, Hugo Young lecture, Chatham House, London, November 28, 2007 07.23 GMT
4. Martin Baron, Editor of The Boston Globe, the 2009 Ruhl Lecture, University of Oregon School of Journalism and Communication, April 2, 2009
5. David Schlesinger, Editor-in-Chief Reuters News, speech to the International Olympics Committee Press Commission, June 23, 2009
6. John Temple, formerly Editor of the Rocky Mountain News, speech to the UC Berkeley Media Technology Summit at Google in Silicon Valley, Sep. 30, 2009
7. Alan Rusbridger, Editor of The Guardian, Hugh Cudlipp lecture, Chatham House, London, January 25, 2010
8. Vivian Schiller, CEO of NPR, speech to the Investigative Reporters and Editors, June 14th, 2010
I've known Marc for many many years, and this isn't the first time I've realized how right he was, and how early. There's some glory in being too early, but not much money (unless you file a patent and it sticks and you're not more than 17 years too early).
The idea was this: Social network software should be a commodity.
His product was called PeopleAggregator. A very accurate but slightly frightening name. The premise was this: Every virtual place should define a social network. It should be as easy to start a social network as it is to install an email server, or a web server. And someday it will be. Marc's someday is actually in the past. He had that product a number of years ago. He was able to extrapolate to a future that we're now right on the cusp of. Who knows when it will actually be realized? Sometimes thse things take an excruciating amount of time.
Examples of virtual places that will be the start of social networks: NYU, Starbucks, BestBuy, my apartment building, Dunkin Donuts, Logan Airport, Verizon, Netflix, The Godfather, Five Easy Pieces, Dirty Harry, Casablanca, Fifth Avenue, Vail.
In a university, the roles you can play are: student, teacher, administrator, security guard, teaching assistant.
In the Godfather, you can play a consigliere, the youngest son, a farmer in Sicily. A spinoff, The Sopranos, has all the roles from the Godfather, with a few more, updated roles. In an object-oriented world, it inherits the properties of its parent class.
You get the idea. Every place that defines a clear set of roles is a place that can host a social network that means something to some people. Facebook and Farmville hint at the beginnings of this idea.
This is on my mind today because I just moved, and had to change my address at all the sites that I have accounts at. The two phone companies I use. My credit cards and banks. Etc.
I'm not sure I want every one of them to define a social network, but certainly AT&T and Verizon, if they had the kind of vision that a Zuck or Ev had, would have started one by now. Of course they don't have the vision. But soon they will. And who will provide them the "off-the-shelf-solution" that makes installing a social network easy, predictable and reliable.
Anyway, I just wanted to give the hat-tip to my under-appreciated friend.
PS: Marc is a bona fide visionary, but he puts too much faith in Google. I predict they will break his heart, like a Cupertino-based fruit company did once, very long ago. :-(
Every time I pass an empty storefront this nagging idea keeps coming up, so I thought I'd better write a blog post to get it out of my system.
Let's talk about what I call a blogger's store. It's a place where bloggers visiting NYC can hang out and meet with other bloggers, from NYC and elsewhere, while they're visiting town.
Think of it this way. When an author comes out with a new book they show up at book stores all around the country to read passages from the book out loud and to sign people's copies. This is the same idea, applied to blogging, which is a kind of writing after all, but different.
I know the usual problem is how do you keep the quality up. That seems so much in the eye of the beholder. I guess there would have to be a curator, a sort of editor-in-chief who puts together the program.
One thing is for sure, whenever we come up with a way to make the blogosphere show up in realspace, something interesting happens.
PS: The idea would work elsewhere, of course, but I think of NYC because I live there, and it's also the biggest city in the US.