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. :-)
On Twitter, numerous people recall that the US insisted on trials for Nazi war crimes at the end of World War II. They cite this as precedent that says that Bin Laden should have been similarly tried. But they're mixing things up too much, the situations are not comparable.
Suppose one of the Nazis had escaped or been acquitted. There was no danger of them re-opening Auschwitz or invading Poland again. Germany was defeated and Europe was in ruins. The next thing to do, no matter what, was to rebuild Europe. At most the Nazis could have escaped justice, and therefore would fail to serve as an example for future would-be war criminals. The Nazis were done, and Germany was knocked out.
Pretty sure I don't have to finish this, but just in case. Trying Bin Laden would have created an unprecedented spectacle, and would have given him control of everything until there was a resolution. Bin Laden was a master of media. He would have known what to do with such an opportunity. And since we know his intentions were to kill Americans, that can't help but mean more dead Americans. Maybe a lot more dead Americans.
As a dead man, we hope he remains silent. But that's not likely. He almost certainly left some kind of message to be played on his death. Maybe many. But at least now it's finite.
We did the right thing by killing him. Sometimes being perfect costs too much. This is one of those times when settling for imperfection was the correct choice.
A simple feature request for people who run news sites.
Make sure that the title of each page contains the title of the story that's on the page.
An example of a site that doesn't do this -- the mobile version of Gawker stories. When I'm reading one of their stories on my iPad and want to push it to my followers, the entry box is pre-populated with the title. Which is always the same. "Gossip from Manhattan and the Beltway to Hollywood and the Valley." No matter what the story is. Not good.
Here's a screen shot.
Another peeve is sites that give me a special version of a page for my iPad. That's not necessary or even welcome. The iPad has a full-size web browser. I want your normal version. Another feature request for Gawker. Don't treat the iPad as if it were an iPhone.
Especially irritating are wordpress.com sites, which put up a Flipboard-like interface. I know I can turn it off, but I don't want to be bothered knowing how to do that. I just want to read the news, not be impressed by your programming prowess, or compliance with the latest Silicon Valley fad. I went to the blog to read what they had to say. I find it especially irritating when they do it to one of my own sites. That I pay them to host. Without my asking for it.
One more thing, Apple's insisting that Flash die clearly isn't working. As an iPad user, I miss a fair amount of stuff I care about. Yeah, it's too much trouble to get up and go to my desktop computer just to see what the video says. At some point Apple is going to throw in the towel on this one. Sooner the better.
The question raised in the title of this post is fairly naive. He was in the middle of a Pakistani military city. They knew, and they don't mind if you figure it out. It won't be acknowledged in the media. Since they're mostly corporate-owned, no one will ask the question in any meaningful way.
The more interesting question is how long did the US govt know he was there, and how did they pick the moment to kill him?
Before you rush in and say "It was political" -- as the Republicans are -- of course it was political. Everything about Bin Laden, on all sides, is and was political.
And if you accept the US story on its face, we could have gone in there at any time in the last few months. Why now?
Well, if you were the President, would you have killed Bin Laden in the middle of the revolutions in the Middle East? Wouldn't have been very good timing. Might have hit the reset button on all that. Much better to let it run its course. Bin Laden wasn't going anywhere. Not with the Pakistanis having him so well controlled.
When did the President need the rhetorical high ground to win the war with the Republicans? Who did he fear more, Bin Laden, who was cornered, and controlled by a US ally, Pakistan, or Mitch McConnell, Eric Cantor and the Koch brothers? Again, we don't have a choice but to take things at face-value. Obviously the Republicans were doing a lot more damage to the US than Bin Laden was. A good President picks his battles and fights them on his own terms. Could the President use Bin Laden to win the war with teh Republicans? Well, duh. (Hello.)
And it's working. The Republicans are retreating on all fronts. (But that's probably all theater too, the real war is much more complicated than the battle between two political parties that report to the same multi-national corporate bosses.)
Bin Laden knew it was over for a long long time. According to reports he didn't leave the compound for five years. He probably couldn't get out if he wanted to. He didn't have Internet or phone service. His only connection to the rest of the world was through a courier, and we knew all about that. Did Bin Laden know we knew? I think so. And there was nothing he could do about it. The man was cornered. And he was that way for a long time.
Using an Occam's Razor approach, the deal he had with the Pakistanis and the US probably went something like this. As long as there are no major acts of terrorism in the west, and as long as we don't need you to die for some greater political purpose, you get to live. But you have to stay confined to this prison, with one wife and a few kids, a vegetable garden and reefer. Bin Laden's life was a chip that could be cashed in for political gain when needed. On Monday the clock ran out for him.
Could the Pakistanis have stopped us if they wanted? Yeah they could have. But they were in on it.