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. :-)
This is scary, but I'm beginning to become numb to the concept of RSS being dead. I read this piece by Mathew Ingram at GigaOm and found myself nodding my head all the way through, even though its title put the name RSS near the word "dead."
His premise is that HTML is dead in exactly the same way that RSS is (according to the guys who are spinning that idea). But they fail to notice that everything is dead the same way RSS is, including their employers, their jobs, their way of life, etc etc. Because things change, and first visions of new things, even things that become wildly popular, are usually wrong.
Jay just got an iPad on Sunday. This was really interesting. He was showing me all the ways the iPad is broken. Yup. These are things I forgot when I learned how to work around them. Again, first views of things usually don't match up with our eventual view. And sometimes the first view is more accurate, not less.
When HTML first came out, lots of people thought the thing to do was to give everyone a WYSIWYG editor and have them create web pages with such a tool, as if the page were somehow central to what the web is. They saw the problem as People Want To Edit HTML, so they aimed to make it easy, and they did.
So the big products of the early web were editors that ran on your desktop. A product called PageMill was sold to Microsoft and became FrontPage. Macromind developed Dreamweaver. There was a company called NetObjects with a product called Fusion. Probably quite a few others. But a few short years later, these products were "dead."
Same thing happened with RSS. Wasn't my fault, I told the developers of the second wave of RSS readers they were wrong to view RSS as email. News is more like a stream that you flip through. Skimming the headlines, reading a few lead paragraphs, and reading the full text of even fewer. Compare this to email, which has the presumption (false) that you're going to read and understand every word of every message sent to you. Completely different things. As different as Hey Jude is from a single episode of FreshAir. One has permanence, is almost an institution. And the other is an episode. Yet both are MP3 files. See how that works?
News is episodic. Each story has small value. It's the rush of news. No story is an institution.
So, I reasoned, RSS readers should model the rush of news and take advantage of our brain's ability to skim. But programmers don't think this way, and I guess most programmers aren't news junkies. Because it was impossible to get through to them. No matter, the market eventually decided. A lot of wasted time, which sucks, but hardly the end of RSS. We're constantly building new things with RSS. All you have to do is open your eyes, which is something most tech reporters are unwilling to do. Always has been thus, in my experience.
Mathew asked if he gets a statue or some frequent flyer miles for my expressed seal of approval. I said no, but you do get Respect.
Seems I heard that somewhere.
I don't just write about the reinvention of RSS, I'm working on it.
As with all things web, and all things RSS, it has a single unifying design principle -- loosely-coupled.
Loose-coupledness is a very key idea. For example, the roads I drive on with my car are loosely-coupled from the car. I might drive a SmartCar, a Toyota or a BMW. No matter what car I choose I am free to drive on the Cross-Bronx Expressway, Sixth Avenue or the Bay Bridge.
Anyway, I wanted to revisit blogging tools in light of all that we now know about blogging, which is a lot more than we knew the first few times around, in the mid-90s to the early 00s.
Here's what I came up with. A tool whose only output is a set of RSS feeds. You can have as many as you want. When you want to create a new post, go to the editor website possibly using a bookmarklet that copies the selected text, title and link from the page you're coming from. Enter (or edit) the body of the post, and optionally a title and a link, to correspond to the three main elements of an RSS item. You can also link to an enclosure. Click Post and the new item is added to the feed and the feed is published. A realtime notification, via rssCloud, goes out to all who have requested realtime notification.
Here's a screen shot of the prototype of this tool.
You can see an array of previous posts, each with an Edit link next to it. Click the link, and the title, link and description fill the edit area. Make your changes, click Save and the result goes back out to the feed.
Now, one of the apps that subscribes to the feed could be an agent that posts the new items and updated items to your blog. Or it could post the new item to Twitter or Facebook. Or to whatever new corporate blogging silo is popular next year or the year after. The important thing is that you and your ideas live outside the silo and are ported into it at your pleasure. You never have to worry about getting your stuff out of the silo because it never lived in there in the first place.
This is a piece of the loosely-coupled system I envision booting up over the next months and years.
PS: People who are familiar with Radio 8 will see the obvious resemblance.
PPS: The name, my.reallysimple.org, evokes (for me at least) the obsession of Gollum in Lord of the Rings, who spoke lovingly of the ring as My Precious.