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. :-)
Thinking about what I was actually using Dropbox for. Never mind the conveniences, the main thing: it was a place where all my servers could read and write. The speed of synchronization is not important. In fact only one machine needs to read, all the others write. Everything else was just nice-to-have. Getting copies of important files on multiple servers was what I needed.
We're having a mini-conference here at NYU on Saturday to discuss hyperlocal blogs. In preparation, I've done a little thinking about what it must be like running one in the summer of 2011. And thinking if I had any advice for people running hyperlocals.
The number one bit of advice -- is to be sure you control your own publishing and distribution. It must be tempting now, and it's likely to get more tempting in the future, to accept the offers of the big tech companies. They're just now beginning to realize that their platforms have a role to play in the future of news. As the larger publications are jumping into bed with them, without thinking very much (imho), it would be just as mistaken for the small ones, the locals, to do the same.
All offers sound great on the way in. Great stats, publishing tools, discussion tools. Monetization perhaps. The problem is that the way out is unknowable. And where are these companies going? They probably don't know. But in the past they've made their money through lock-in. And it's pretty obvious that over time more of them will be in competition with you. AOL already is. At that point, you're going to want to know how to get out.
A better way forward would be to stick with the boring stuff and stay away from the platform du jour in techland. Focus on your users, learn from and about them. Think clearly and imaginatively, find new ways to be relevant to them. If new technology is needed, either develop it, or make your needs known clearly to developers. In a city like Berkeley, for example, there are lots of programmers. Go out and find them. There are independent developers everywhere who are willing to work to create free environments outside the large tech companies, so there's a natural partnership with hyperlocals. Don't be afraid to make the connections. And don't be afraid to ask for help.
I'd also try to come up with projects that can be directly, financially supported by the community that your hyperlocal can facilitate, but aren't directly related to your business model. There's no reason you personally can't make money from the growth of your community. It's the one interest every local publication accepts. You have an interest in the success of your community.
No matter what, there is no formula for relevance in hyperlocal, and no guarantee either. The winners here, if there are going to be any, will have to be imaginative and courageous and really smart. And good at working with others.
Bonus link: BloggerCon format.
The growth in Silicon Valley, which has been huge, happens in fits and starts. Periods of expansion, followed by stagnation, and out of the remains rises something new. Often bringing along very little of the best of the previous generation.
When stagnation is on the rise it's because the industry has become too introverted. The leading companies only listen to each other. They fight "wars," viewing the users in aggregate, as numbers, as powerless individuals. Tactical pieces to be moved around and used to attack each other.
I've been trying to figure out what's going on in Washington because it's so dramatic and frightening. On one level, I think the Repubs and Dems work for the same bosses, the people who pay for their campaigns. In that model, what we're seeing is a giant stage play. And at the other end of the pipe, trillions of dollars that were supposed to flow to the people, through health care and social security, now won't. Maybe they flow somewhere else. For a long time I was pretty sure that's what was going on. The same kind of footsie that often happens in the tech industry (for example, the animus between Apple and Google, at least somewhat serves both, by forcing Microsoft into a lower less-relevant tier).
So maybe it's all a play. But lately I don't think so. Because if it is, I just don't see what could possibly be going on behind the scenes that makes any sense for anyone. It just seems dysfunctional, self-destructive in the extreme, and likely to finally wake up the sleeping electorate. (I hope.)
More likely, I believe, it's just the same thing that the tech guys do. The actual world is too complicated to comprehend in total. So as a company gets bigger and bigger, it focuses more and more inwardly, to keep the complexity manageable, on a human scale. Instead of worrying about a new generation of voters, focus instead on defeating the other party. The press that travels in their circles views the electorate the same way.
In the tech industry, the stagnation cycle often ends with a user-started venture that gives the people what they actually want, not limited by what the industry is willing to give them. I wonder if that can happen in politics as well?