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. :-)
Noted: Zune is no more.
Oy. What if. If only.. Told. You. So.
Zune was the worst idea ever. They could have zigged to Apple's zag. Apple built a fantastic music playing device. Zune could have made the best podcast player. There is a huge difference between the two forms.
1. You buy a song, a podcast is free.
2. You listen to songs many times, a podcast is listened to once.
3. You keep a song, you throw out a podcast.
4. I don't know about you but when I replay a song I want to start at the beginning. But if I haven't finished a podcast, I want to resume where I left off.
5. You make lists of songs, you curate them, put them next to other songs, sing them, hum them, can't get them out of your head, listen to them years later and they bring back memories. You do none of that with podcasts.
But podcasts are great! I'm going for a walk now and I will get caught up on nuclear power and listen to an interview with Dr. John (there's the connection to music, btw).
We, who love podcasts, still make-do with the iPod when we should have a great podcast player. Now maybe podcasting isn't such a huge market, but maybe it would be if it had been inspired by a device made specially for podcasts? You never know!
Another what if...
What if Microsoft had said FUCK YES! to netbooks instead of "Oh well if you insist we'll let you use Windows, but you have to cripple the hardware, and when we ship Windows 7 you have to use that even though there's negative demand for it."
What a mistake to waste the two-three year head-start they had over Apple. They should have been blown away by the new demand for Windows as a mass market thing and helped the netbook makers come up with ideal form-factors, even subsidized the sales, all to capture a mobile market that they could use as a beachead to compete with Apple. Instead they're left doing a dead-leading-the-dead deal with Nokia.
Ballmer is a sales guy. Maybe he's a great one, I don't know. But he's completely outclassed as a product strategist by Jobs. And Microsoft should finally let go all those Windows coders, if they haven't already done so. They need to become a distributor and investment banker, and stop trying to compete in areas they clearly can't. And if they ever get so lucky as to have a phenomenon like netbooks land in their lap, don't let it slip away by being all corporate.
Along with Radio2 comes a new kind of RSS feed, one that really works for microblogs.
In the last few days, since Twitter announced their new developer roadmap, there's been a fair amount of writing done about using RSS as the basis for a distributed version of what Twitter does.
People who read this blog will already be familiar with this idea.
However one thing I haven't seen anyone write about is the question of titles. This is a big issue, the reason why it's hard to do what Twitter does in RSS, but thankfully not impossible.
Here's the thing. Twitter posts don't have titles.
No matter how you look at it, they don't have them. When you go to twitter.com all you get is a prompt that asks "What's happening?" In a sense this is the title of every Twitter post, without the question mark.
When you're constructing a minimal blogging tool, you have to allow for posts that don't have titles. And if you want Twitter users to be comfortable with it, that must be the default behavior.
Then if you look at the RSS feeds that Twitter generates, you'll notice that they reproduce the text of the tweet in both the title and the description. It looks awful in my aggregator, and I bet it looks awful in others. But if I were them, I might have done it this way. I assume this is because there are feed readers that won't deal with items that don't have titles. I think Google Reader works this way. So if you want to read a Twitter feed in Google Reader, and that must have been their number one feature request, and if the Google Reader guys aren't willing to budge, then go ahead and echo the tweet text in both places.
I didn't go that way. I read the RSS 2.0 spec again, to be sure I had it right, and there's no requirement that an item have a title. "All elements of an item are optional, however at least one of title or description must be present." There's a reason for that, it's not an accident. Early blogs, like scripting.com, had posts without titles. If RSS was going to work for those blogs (and I had an incentive to make it work that way) it had to be permissible for items to not have titles. Any reader that can't handle them isn't really a RSS-reader, it's a subset-of-RSS-reader.
So my feeds won't be readable in those tools. Which is, to me, a feature not a bug. Because those guys seriously need to take another look at their product, in the age of Twitter, because they're not dealing with a very popular form of content. And they could be doing it, with a simple fix, and they should be looking at a retrofit in the near future, to become part of the distributed network that will develop alongside Twitter. As now seems virtually inevitable.
One more thing, if you've been reading the feeds that emanate from Radio2, you would have noticed that there's a new namespace coming along with it, called microblog. It's a place where I'm putting items that are needed to properly represent a microblog in RSS. If you're interested in this stuff you should have a look.
In January I wrote about what I called the minimal blogging tool. The goal being to create a thin blogging tool that would compete with Twitter for simplicity. Of course that doesn't mean the design is easy. It took a lot of trying stuff this way then that but finally I'm happy with it. And it's in finishing-off state, the first real product shipment I've done since nine years. Feels pretty good.
The product is called Radio2 -- it's the continuation of the thread started by Radio UserLand in 2002.
So if it's nearing shipment, how does that work?
0. If you want to get an idea how it works without using any software, check out the docs.
1. If you really really really want to try it out now, send me an email to the address in the sidebar and I'll set the first ten people up with accounts on my server. This is just for you to try out. I'm not making any committments to hosting your site for any period of time. This is just for trying-out.
2. I am shipping it as a tool that runs in any Frontier-based environment. That includes the OPML Editor, and the runtime that's baked into EC2 for Poets. I've written a howto that explains how to install it. It requires some technical ability, but once you have it running, it's pretty reliable, I've found. We have a mail list going for support of sysops of EC2-for-Poets servers.
3. If you know someone who has a Radio2 server, you can ask them for an account on their server. Or a group of people can join together, pool resources, and run their own.
4. If you want to host the server elsewhere, not on EC2, I've prepared a download of just the OPML app taken off the EC2 server. It will stay in synch with the servers we're all running, but it doesn't have to be on EC2. Again, you should be something of a technical hero to run this, but not a super-geek, just someone who likes computers.
If you just want to keep track of development, look at the changes page. There's no feed for that page, by design. I want people to read it as a stream, not as separate bits. I don't see this changing anytime soon.
There's a lot more on the way. I'm going to keep programming. Hopefully the community has reached a level where it can support new servers coming online. If not, we'll keep iterating until it has reached that level.