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. :-)
I've made some changes to Scripting2, the software that I use to publish this blog. The purpose of this post is to see if I've broken the software. Let's hope not!
If you can read this that means that not only can we still create new posts, but it's possible to edit them after they have been created.
Happily all seems to work as previously.
Had lunch the other day with a programmer friend, a very accomplished and smart and thoughtful guy. A studious reader of this blog, I think for about two years, who's trying to figure out the shape of the software I'm working on.
I am swinging back to outlines now, and finding they have new relevance, and that I understand things I didn't understand before. So that's what I'm talking about these days.
However, my friend the programmer says he's missing the context, because I never write about outlines. He's right. I stopped writing about them a long time ago, before the web and blogs. So there's no body of writing to explain why they work.
I'm going to skip all the history for now, and just explain outlines in the 2011 context.
It feels like I manage hundreds of "sites" where I accumulate or hope to accumulate lots of ideas, record events, store pictures, etc. As much as I have trouble keeping up with what everyone else is writing, I feel that what I have created is even more out of control.
So I want to organize and simplify and make it easy to find things, and when I spot a mistake on a blog post or a howto, or want to add a note to a picture, I want to do as little work as possible to find the source text, make the change and save the result.
Outlines are rapidly becoming the way I do that.
Until recently I only used outlines to write individual articles like this one. And of course to write code, and manage object databases (Frontier allows me to edit almost any structure in the outliner, and programs and their data are well-modeled as hierarchies.)
I've figured out how to do the next-up level, to manage collections of sites, in one document that I can search quickly and navigate, and easily reorganize structurally. And where linkrot was always the result of restructuring in the past (one of the reasons I didn't use outliners to organize my entire net presence), I now have a solution for that. It was possible to do it years ago, but I didn't think of it. That I'll write about in more detail when I'm ready to release an app that anyone can use for this purpose. But the feature already has a name (sorry for the tease -- no I'm not).
In the true spirit of a bootstrap the link to its name is an instance of itself.
Programmers love recursion. It's the rabbit we pull out of our hats.
Just occurred to me that it's possible that Microsoft bought Skype for its potential to route-around the telcos. Or to put pressure on them to get better deals. Or it's possible that behind-the-scenes they weren't getting enough love from the telcos, who see Microsoft as a second-tier player in mobile comm (as do the rest of us) and that owning Skype was a good way to get their attention.
What made me think of this is that Bill Gates has said he was a big supporter of the deal. Then I thought back to a speech that Gates gave in 1981 in Palo Alto, just after the IBM PC came out. It was a pretty big speech, though at the time no one made a big deal about it.
Here's what he said (I'm paraphrasing, from memory): "I know the history of computers. Microsoft will be a huge company some day, and when we are, we'll tend to be like all the other big companies. And some upstart will come along and challenge us the way we're now challenging the leaders of the computer industry. But I will remember what it's like to be an upstart, and I won't let them have the advantage."
He probably wasn't quite that clear about it, but that was the point. And we know who the upstart was -- Netscape. Once he vanquished them, he relaxed, and let Google do the job Netscape was trying to do. And now Bill Gates looks like every other computer mogul to come before. Rich, but on his way to being forgotten.
Except Gates is still around, and if he was that history-aware when he was young, why wouldn't he still be -- only more so. Now he has all the experience he didn't have then. He's a voracious reader, now he has 30 years of book-reading that he didn't have when he was in his 20s. So If you're Gates, and you're watching your creation flounder into irrelevance, what do you think of doing? Disrupting, of course.
I floated this idea on Twitter, and people say that they don't think Microsoft is capable of doing anything but supporting the status quo. That's cause they're thinking of Ballmer's Microsoft. But Ballmer does not equal Gates.
Anyway, okay I know this probably isn't true, but it's often good to let your mind relax assumptions, and play What If.
On the other hand, the original potential of Skype, if you can remember back to its inception (I can) was that it would disrupt the telcos, the same way Netflix is disrupting the entertainment business. If Gates can somehow keep the mess that Microsoft has become from interfering with the opportunity, then he could still do some disrupting before heading off the to the Old Software Dudes farm.
Update: Kevin Fox blogged this before I did. Smart guy!