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About the author

A picture named daveTiny.jpgDave 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.

Contact me

scriptingnews1mail at gmail dot com.




My sites
Recent stories

Recent links

My 40 most-recent links, ranked by number of clicks.

My bike

People are always asking about my bike.

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Here's a picture.


June 2011

May   Jul


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FYI: You're soaking in it. :-)

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Dave Winer's weblog, started in April 1997, bootstrapped the blogging revolution.

How to compete with the big guys Permalink.

Bit.ly has to worry about Twitter, which I assume is where most shortened URLs are created, and where most are dereferenced. That's probably why they took the price off Bit.ly Pro, and gave the features to everyone for free.

Of course, they had to do this, because Twitter itself is now offering almost everything Bit.ly already offered for free, also for free. It's unlikely that Twitter will match all the features of the Pro version anytime soon, so Bit.ly has a reason to exist.

But "reason to exist" is not much to get excited about.

What if Bit.ly were to actively get on the side of the user, eschew any form of lock-in, and perhaps for a price (let's be fair) give people the freedom to leave Bit.ly at any time without breaking any of their previous links, and keep their own domain.

It's technically possible to do this, if the user has an S3 account. And there's nothing hard about setting one up. You can use the same Amazon account you use to buy water skis, toothpaste, bike helmets and bottled water.

As Bit.ly is to Twitter Disqus is to Facebook.

Long-term I don't think there's much hope that Disqus will hold out against Facebook, unless, again, they actively take the side of the user. What if they automatically deposit the text of every comment, in JSON perhaps, or XML (or your choice) in your S3 bucket. I keep using Disqus as an example here. I doubt if they'll ever do it. They're not the kind of company that goes first, it seems.

Which is funny because both Bit.ly and Disqus did go first, early in their lives. Unless I'm missing something have they made so much money or other kinds of success that they can afford to stop pushing the envelope of what a tech company will do to gain your loyalty?

In any case, if you're contemplating a startup to compete with Bit.ly or Disqus, consider ways you can support users against the lock-in of the Big Guys, and the lock-in of the Little Guys.

A picture named webIsDeadFreeGift.gifBTW, one of the things I, and so many others, love about Dropbox is that it's all about making our data more accessible to us. You never have to think about how to get your data out of Dropbox. It's sitting right there on your hard disk, reminding you why you love them. Because their product empowers you without locking you in. You could even figure out a way to synch Dropbox with their competitors' products without giving up Dropbox. We need more services like that. (I gladly pay them $99 per year because their product is so useful, and makes me feel powerful instead of like a hamster.)

I've been around this block a lot of times. At some point the users are going to want to know who are their friends and who aren't. For a small company trying to make it in the midst of giants, when that day comes, if you've been trying to act like the big guy you aren't, it's off to the glue factory! :-(

Good ride, black helicopter Permalink.

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Map: 10.73 miles, 59 minutes.

A wartime Internet Permalink.

A picture named peace.gifI guess it all depends on how you define war.

But earlier this year, the governments of Tunisia and Egypt fell in revolutions that were organized on the Internet.

Many of the people I know think of this in breathless terms, as an amazing Gee-whiz sort of thing. I do too, because I'm rooting for the Internet. Just like I used to root for the early Internet companies like Amazon, Google and Yahoo. I felt a kinship with them then that I no longer feel. Sure I use their services. But I don't expect them to look out for me, or for their interests to align with mine, any more than the companies who make electricity do, or keep the elevators running, or fly the airplanes. They only keep me safe to the extent that it's good for business. Otherwise, we're on our own.

I expect the gee-whizness that comes from the Internet used to overthrow governments is going to sour much more quickly than the earlier kind. Because once the governments learned the Internet could be used to take them out of power, two things happened. 1. They put up better defenses. 2. They learned how to use the Internet to do to their adversaries what their people would have, previously, done to them.

You think -- ah but those generals and despots don't know how to use the Internet. Yes, and I don't know how to fly an airplane, but I can still get on a plane and fly from NY to anywhere. You just have to hire someone who knows how to fly a plane. United, Lufthansa, Delta, Air France, etc are all happy to oblige.

The question, I guess, is where will you be when it all melts down, and it will it be possible to get food and water and will the natives be friendly. And they won't be the cute natives that pundits love to talk about. They'll be truly strange people who don't love us and aren't lovable.

The people who were freaked out by Julian Assange will wonder how we could have felt threatened by him, when we are going to be dealing with Internet-scale hacking, world-wide Internet-scale hacking, from now-on. It'll make Assange look like the flower child hippie that he is.

A picture named mrNatural.gifAn analogy. There was a time when you wouldn't think twice about downloading and running any piece of software onto your PC. Until one day we did that and it installed boatloads of adware, that we never really were able to get rid of. The Internet is now as infected as our PCs were in those days. And the targets of the infections haven't yet realized how infected they are.

Anyway, no matter how you look at it, the Internet has already been used in wars. In a real sense the wars were fought on the Internet. That means from now on, that's where wars will be fought. The days of innocence for the net are now behind us, I'm afraid.

How to follow my work Permalink.

Another rambly piece...

For the last six months or so I've used a feature of the OPML Editor called the Instant Outliner to narrate my work. I collaborated with six other people, all programmers of one sort or another, who in their own way narrated their work with the tool.

A picture named webIsDead.gifEach of users could see each others' outline as it updated. Not as you typed, but when you clicked the Save button. This is the only civilized way to do it. Some programmers think it's cool to have the keystrokes updating in realtime. But that would be a huge waste of human bandwidth. When a colleague of mine updates their outline it's a somewhat disruptive thing in my own workflow. I needed a way to turn it off. Without a good user interface for doing that, a couple of days ago I did turn it off. I know this was jarring for my colleagues. But that's the way to turn a corner. One day, boom -- that's it. I wish I could quit Twitter as easily. (Getting there.)

Anyway, the I/O experiment was a huge success. One of the things I learned better how to do, and developed systems for, was to simply explain a code update. I've always wanted to have a window into my development work visible from Scripting News, since a lot of the work I do here is about blogging and online writing, I think it would be of interest to some of you guys. But I never had a way to do that.

Also since most of the software is available for download, and some of it is getting pretty polished and easy to set up. Not all the way there yet. :-)

It's sort of like live-blogging, but done by oneself, and at a much slower rate.

This is the technology of narrate your work.

Anyway, I've now got a public place where you can watch what I'm doing. Or at least the parts of what I'm doing that I can talk about publicly.


There's no RSS feed yet, but I know I need to have one.

But you begin a bootstrap with something that's insufficient, and by using it you learn how to make it more sufficient.

And it seems I'm always beginning a bootstrap. :-)

Anyway, if this is confusioning (I know it is), it's always this way in the world I work in. That's the kind of conceptualizing I like to do. Stuff where the details get worked out while the software is being developed.

It'll get easier to understand over time.

BTW, if you liked outliners, this is your kind of stuff. :-)

It happened again Permalink.

June 14, 2002 was a big day in my life. A huge one.

It was the day I died and was reborn a new person.

Not kidding. I didn't find Jesus, but I did find that I had four blocked arteries in my heart, and needed emergency surgery to save my life.

It was also the last day I smoked. Before 6/14/02, I was a multi-pack-per-day smoker. Marlboro Lights was my brand.

I survived, in a sense, but in another sense, I did not.

A picture named lights.jpgWhen I got home from the hospital, I felt like I was in the house of a dead relative. The house was filled with stuff I didn't need or want. A few months later, the house was sold, the stuff was either given away or dumpstered, and I was off to Boston for an adventure in that's still going on.

When I stress about not being included in something or other, a quick reminder that I died and of course they don't include dead people in their parties or conferences or roundups of heroes or whatever it is I am not being honored with.

Let's see, 2011 - 2002 is 9. Nine years since I died. Is this heaven? Well, not really. But it's still pretty good!

What happened again? I forgot the anniversary day. I see that as a sign that I am no longer a nicotine addict. There was a time when it took discipline not to smoke. That's not true anymore. Occasionally I get the urge to buy a pack. But it happens rarely. And so far I have let the urge pass without acting.

"One day at a time."

It's a milestone worth mentioning on my blog.

Now back to my life as a ghost! :-)

© Copyright 1997-2011 Dave Winer. Last build: 12/12/2011; 1:30:23 PM. "It's even worse than it appears."

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