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'm really getting annoyed with OnSwipe.
I met with the guys who do the product at TechStars earlier this year, as part of a 6-meeting morning. Very interesting stuff, even the stuff I didn't like, like OnSwipe.
Now it's starting to show up places. Like on my Mom's wordpress.com blog, when I read it on my iPad. So when she wants to know why something is working wrong, I'm out of luck if the only computer I have with me is my iPad. I've tried to tell Matt Mullenweg how I feel about this, he says they push 35 changes to their servers every day, so no one can like everything. Makes him sound like Abe Lincoln. But it's another example of the web breaking up. We had such a good thing going. And I thought Matt was a friend. Of the web, that is.
Anyway, I was looking at Brad Feld's blog on my iPad, and thought, man that looks nice, I want to show everyone. But when I tried to look at the link on my Mac, all I saw was a tab in the upper-left corner that said "Cover" with an arrow. On my iPad it would take you to a page with an array of Brad's stories. On my Mac it does nothing. Do a View Source, and there is something there. Let me know if you can figure out what it's doing.
Anyway, I'd love to know what they want to do to the web so we can know whether these are just temporary problems or if we have hate them long-term.
Update: Hacker News thread on this topic.
Man, what a day. I'm working on a big upgrade for testers of the World Outline software. I didn't expect to split the day with Firefox, but I opened the can of worms with the earlier piece comparing Mozilla Corp to Osborne Corp.
Anyway, here's a summary of where I'm at with Firefox.
1. I have tried Firefox 4 on a few of my servers.
2. My desktop machine, laptop, and other servers are all still running Firefox 3. I have no plans to upgrade them, esp since I now know the aggressive plan Mozilla has. My iPad and iPhone run Safari. And I assume my Droid is running some variant of Chrome.
3. Before I knew they were considering cutting off support for 3.6, I expected that after waiting a few months for the glitches to be out in Firefox 4, and for a good support system to have developed, I would gradually start switching to 4, but tentatively, expecting things to break. If too many things were broken, I'd quickly revert to Firefox 3, and probably wouldn't attempt it again. (By support system I mean that if there were common problems, the answers would be findable in Google. It takes a certain amount of time for that to develop. I try to do my part by asking questions publicly and making sure the question is asked clearly up front so searchers can find it.) I am not just this conservative with browsers. I'm running Windows Server 2003 on my cloud machines. That's eight year old OS. Runs great! Does absolutely everything I need. And Microsoft is, thankfully, keeping it updated.
4. I have not tried Firefox 5, and I don't plan to. Version 4 was as far as I had gotten in my thinking.
5. My experience dealing with all the companies in this space is negative. Different reasons for each. I think Google is a troubled company and very large and very rich, and likely to use their browser in power plays against their competitors, with little regard for users. Microsoft lost my trust when they failed to protect their users against malware. Mozilla seems to be deliberately chasing away all but the most adventurous users. Does that matter in determining whether I continue to use Firefox? Probably not, at least for the short-term. Inertia is what keeps me with it. Except for today, I've spent zero days in the last year worrying about which browser I use. I expect tomorrow will be the same as most other days. But August looms large. If they announce the end of updates to Firefox 3.6, I'm going to seriously consider switching to another browser.
6. If Mozilla was marketing Firefox as the easiest upgrade for users, that would make a big difference to me. But I'm guessing there's been a lot of breakage in the various upgrades. I don't have time to study it. I'm busy with my own work. And I like to do other things from time to time. That's why I go slow on upgrading all kinds of software, not just browsers.
That's about it. I know they want us to be passionate about Firefox, but sorry -- I am not. The browser should just seen and not heard. I don't ever want to think about it. Or as little as I possibly can. If they force the issue, I guess I have to pay attention. But I will be inclined to go with a browser that doesn't care whether I care, and is just happy to let me use it without being an upaid software tester.
PS: Anticipating more marketing from Mozilla people in the comments, I disabled them for this post. If you have something to say, write a post in your own space. I will see it in the referrer log, and will read it, unless it's a flame. Thanks to the Back button that all browsers still have that's easy.
Who is Osborne?
Osborne Computer Corp famously committed suicide in 1983 by announcing a new product before it was ready to ship, thereby killing their cash cow (the previous product), and killing their cash flow, and killing themselves.
I'm very much afraid Mozilla is doing that with Firefox.
If you use Firefox 3.6, you should assume that, after August, there will be no more fixes, security or otherwise. If you want to get on board with their process, you'll need to start using Firefox 4. But wait a minute. Firefox 4 is dead too. You need to be using Firefox 5. And that will be dead in a few months, replaced by Firefox 6. And so on.
Here's the problem.
If Firefox were creating new features that mattered to users, we would be upgrading along with them, exactly as they want us to.
The problem for them, if they choose to view it as a problem, is that web browsers are done. Feature-complete. No one can think of anything to add that anyone wants, because there are no more features to add. Sadly, this happens to product categories. It happened with word processors twenty years ago. Spreadsheets, around the same time. Windows was done when XP shipped. Mac OS, yeah it's done too. I haven't used any of the new features. And by "new" I mean features introduced in the last eight years or so.
Software products have lifecycles. They reach a point where all they need is maintenence. Make sure it runs on new hardware. Fix security issues as they arise. Optimize. (Firefox could sure use that!) Teeny little tweaks that are almost unnoticable.
An aside: I'd love to be proven wrong about this. Give me a new must-have feature in the browser. Make my day!
Mozilla does not have our attention because they aren't doing anything worth paying attention to.
Browsers should be like the lens in my glasses. If you're thinking about it, your attention is in the wrong place. You use a browser to look through, at other things.
So now they want to force the issue, effectively holding the users' security hostage.
There ought to be a law against this. It's a form of bait and switch. You thought we were going to fix security bugs? Think again!
And where is the industry press? Why isn't TechCrunch all over this? Walt Mossberg? Are you guys all on summer vacation? Too busy to fend for the users? I don't really care if Mozilla wants to commit Osborne-like suicide, but I do care that millions of Firefox users who won't be upgrading to Firefox 4 anytime soon are going to be exposed to all kinds of nasty shit.
Another angle on this -- there must be a reason they're doing this. They must see something we don't. Like their numbers going down. Or the money drying up. Since they're open source and non-profit, shouldn't we be told what the issue is? Maybe there's another solution to the problem? Other than exposing the users.
Microsoft tried this too, btw. Left the users to deal with all kinds of nasty malware. Firefox may think their rise in popularity was due to something intrinsically nicer about their software. I don't think so. I think it was just that the virii that were attacking MSIE were not attacking Firefox.
Eddie Cantor: "It's nice to be important, but it's more important to be nice."
Update: I turned off comments for this post, as we're attracting people from Mozilla who want to tell us how great their new versions are. Thank you, but we can find your marketing materials elsewhere. As I said in one of the comments, this is a company that suffers less from an inability to communicate than an inability to listen.