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 have mixed feelings about that.
When I got my first demo of the web in 1992 or 1993 my first reaction when I saw http://etc in the browser's address bar was "People won't do that." It's one of those times I was glad I was wrong.
Just two years later, driving on Highway 101 past the Marin Civic Center in San Rafael, I saw the URL of its website in huge letters on the marquee in front. Totally visible to all the cars going by on the freeway. The idea went from baffling to mainstream in just a couple of years.
Nowadays I can tell almost anyone to type a URL in the address bar of the browser, and they'll probably have some idea how to do it. They might not know what a browser is. And they might go to Google to search for facebook.com, but they find their way there.
Another story. I was taking a taxi from Montego Bay to Negril in Jamaica in 1988 or so. My driver, a friend of my uncle's named Indian (all Jamaicans have second names like that), pointed out a community with dozens of identical bungalows. He said Cubans built them. They have all the modern conveniences but no one wants to live in them. "They don't have back doors," he said. I didn't get it at first.
In a way the address bar is like the back door. It's the way you can be sure you can get somewhere even if all the powers-that-be don't want you to go there. It's just a feeling. I don't want to give it up, for me, or for anyone else.
I'd like to keep the address bars just as they are.
Just had an idea. I know at TechStars/NYC the next crop is preparing proposals. This is a good time to try to influence you!
I have a list of 11 ideas for new tech projects. Some of them, I believe, have a serious chance to make money.
If you want to do one of the ideas on this list, or if one inspires you to an even better idea, I want to know about it -- before you submit your proposal. It's okay to contact me. I would like to help you put the plan together. (Assuming you have a serious chance of winning.)
Once it's been through the incubator process, assuming you're successful, I'd like a chance to invest.
I don't know why I didn't think of this sooner.
PS: It doesn't just apply to entrepreneurs with TechStars or even NYC.
PPS: Maybe we should call this early-stage-mentorship. Or entrepreneurial mentorship. Or lazy entrepreneurship. Or venture visions. Whatever it is, I have a roadmap, and if your work fits in, I want to participate.
I read this piece by the EFF about Apple and patent trolls and defenseless developers.
The gist: Apple requires developers to use an Apple-provided service in order to sell their apps in the App Store. The developers are getting sued for patent infringement for doing this. Apple itself is exempt from being sued because they did a separate deal with the owners of the patent.
Apple should defend the developers. It's not just a moral thing -- it's smart business. Assuming they want to have developers.
It struck me as parallel to another situation where Apple is making the wrong call.
All of a sudden Macs have malware. I've seen the attack that's rampant, and it gave me a sick feeling, because it reminded me of the reason I switched back to the Mac in 2005. Windows had become a horrible mess of malware. Microsoft's position was the same one that Apple is now adopting. Leave the users, most of whom think they're immune to malware (Apple told them so!), to fend for themselves.
They should do a business school case study on this kind of lunacy.
Nowadays, Microsoft very much takes responsibility for keeping Windows machines defended against malware. The malware problems that caused me to stop using Windows are not gone, but the defenses appear to work. I have several Windows machines that (knock wood) appear to be malware-free and running smoothly. But that was too late to keep me as a Windows user on a personal level.
The situation with users and developers for the Mac are exactly the same. Apple is the strong party, they're the deep pockets, and they're the ones with the most to lose if developers can't develop for and users can't use their products.
PS: A good idea for a startup might be a virus scanner for the Mac. Sad, but that's where we are now. And let's hope no patent troll sues them for it.
I'm lucky to be involved as a mentor in TechStars/NYC.
So far that has meant meeting with a few of their startups to give them my impressions of their ideas and execution, for whatever it's worth.
I remember well sitting on their side of the table, although when I was their age, the process was less formal. However, when I was starting up I knew a lot of the stuff we were improvising would eventually be standardized. I always believed in the incubator idea even when it was out of fashion, even when it was considered "disproved."
Why, as a creative person, did I have to become a corporate executive? That was a mistake. Good software, like anything creative, is made by people who focus on product, not business. Managing a company, raising money, dealing with crises of all kinds, took me away from the thing I do best, and love, which is create.
But now, in the tech incubators and hackathons, I see another of these kinds of problems.
The people who play the role of mentors are older, and the people who play the role of startups are younger. For the most part the people judging are non-technical, they're not product developers. And the younger people must be product developers -- or there will be no product. (Of course they have other kinds of people on their teams.)
I'd like to see some of the ideas I'm working on get the incubator treatment. Starting companies may be something for the younger folk but I'm not willing to concede this any more than I would have conceded that product development is something exclusive them. Maybe there's a person who loves running businesses who started companies in his or her 20s and 30s but thinks they could do it better in their 40s, 50s and 60s? I wouldn't rule it out. Not everyone wants to be sitting in the mentor chair. Some people want to do. (Nothing wrong with mentoring of course.)
I'm disheartened that product developers aren't usually among the ranks of mentors and hackathon judges. In no other field is it like this. Do movie directors get their inspiration from financial people? I hope not (unless the movie is about financial people). Does the medical profession get its mentoring from doctors and medical researchers who have been there before? I hope so! When I was a math student, my teachers were mathematicians, not venture capitalists.
As someone with a boatload of experience, I will tell you that experience isn't everything, but it matters. I had my choice of mentors when I was young. The guy I settled on was a generation older, but a product guy who had been successful in business. We just gravitated to each other. And I had tried out a lot of other relationships before that.
But it would be wrong to assume that people in their 40s and beyond are not capable of creating breakthrough products. Some of us are.