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 buried the lede in my last piece, at the end of which I suggested a plan for Firefox.
Briefly: Fork a stable release, if necessary, farm this out to a tech partner who is good at managing large developer communities and enterprise users. This version only changes in two areas: improvements to the rendering engine and security updates. It's a lean platform for plug-ins.
You want rendering to evolve quickly so as not hold back developers of websites, to avoid disasters like IE6. But if stability is important, you shouldn't have to accept insecurity. The pace of evolution and safety should not be related.
The other fork is a the "rock and roll" thread, where changes are frequent, and innovations many.
I started writing this in a comment on the Firefox thread, that's still going on and in interesting directions, and realized it should be in a blog post.
The point was made that Mozilla was headed in a good direction with their support for Firefox plug-ins. But now, by breaking them, as they bump the version number more frequently, they're turning in a less optimal direction.
What I realized is that over the years I keep re-learning this lesson myself.
In 2008, I stripped the extraneous stuff from the OPML Editor to get something that was just an app-running environment and an outliner. This was a good move. I had added a layer that I never finished and didn't even like, and it took two years to fully realize that, and take the time to clean it out and get a fresh start.
At the same time I added a Tool Catalog page embedded in the app that makes it one click, with confirmation, to install a new app. Another move that has stood the test of time. And one that, theoretically, removed any reason to bundle user-level functionality.
And then earlier this year, I did it again -- and added Blork and River2 to EC2 for Poets. Neither was mature enough for that. I reached too far before it was time. Again. Anyway, now I'm creating a stripped-down EC2 for Poets. It'll be a little more complicated to set up Blork, but a lot less complicated if you want to use it for something other than Blork. Maybe, at sometime in the future when Blork is fully mature and all the roughness has been smoothed out, it can hide in the corner of the install, and not get in the way if you're not interested. But we're definitely not there yet. And it was in the way of something I wanted to do. A sure sign I had reached too far.
Some day when I have the time, I'll make a list of all these kinds of gyrations I do. I think I'm learning that I ought to do fewer!
I guess if I were evolving Mozilla, I'd try to fork into two threads. One that's stable, and only gets upgrades to the rendering engine and addresses security issues. A totally stable plug-in-running platform. And the upgrades are coordinated with developers, which includes people who manage large networks of installations of Firefox users. If Mozilla doesn't want to do this, they could license another company to do it. Look at how HP just reorganized to rebuild itself around software. There's value here, and it's a shame to see it thrown away.
A really bold move here would be to do a partnership with Microsoft, at a time when the open source world has a lot of leverage with them. Think about the enemy of your enemy being a friend. Think of a mature company that can set up and run a vast service network for enterprise software. A developer conference on the scale of WWDC or Google I/O.
The second fork would be the current rock and roll thread of development. By splitting in two you'd free yourself of the drag that you must be feeling and believe me, it won't go away unless the people really go away -- to Chrome.
We all have something at stake with Firefox, not just the employees of Mozilla Corp. I thought that would be important to point out. It's like Wikipedia, only further down the stack.
Exec summary: I have a mifi device from Verizon that I don't need anymore. Can't figure out how to cancel service via the Verizon customer website.
I do a fair amount of business with Verizon. I have a Droid phone, FIOS internet service, and I use Verizon for my cable TV service. I also have a Verizon mifi device.
I want to clean up my services, because I've got some stuff that's out of date, and some that I don't use. Of course they make it really easy on their website to add more services, and they hide the commands that turn services you don't want off. But I'm determined.
Anyway, here's what I want to do: Get rid of the mifi device. I almost never use it. And I can get tethering for less than the cost of the mifi device. And it's one less thing to carry and keep charged.
Anyway, the point of this blog post is to ask for help if anyone knows how to use the Verizon website. And I've also sent a pointer to this post to the Verizon account on Twitter, rather than try to explain what I want to do 140 characters at a time.
Update: I decided to call them.
1. Used the number on the phone bill. After five minutes wading through their system, I was told this was for residential accounts and I needed to speak with someone in wireless. They transferred me. Another voicemail tree, after which they put me on a dead line. Which then hung up on me. Total time: seven minutes.
2. Calling again. Dialed 0 for operator. Got to Verizon, but they said I had to check the number and try again. I don't know what number to call.
4. I couldn't really understand what the rep said, but it took only 16 minutes total to cancel the mifi service. On the other hand it should have been possible to do it via the website. Those were 16 wasted minutes, if you don't count the time it took to write the blog post.
Now that I know how to do this, I might just cancel the wireless phone service too and just stick with AT&T. Thinking about it.
Two new items today re Sources Go Direct.
1. Felix Salmon notes that Google went direct with news of their acquisition of Motorola.
2. On today's Brian Lehrer Show, the former attorney for the NY Times in the Ellsberg case, says the difference between Ellsberg and Julian Assange, is that Assange is a publisher, therefore is protected under the First Amendment.
Bravo for Assange and Google for going direct, and skipping the step of using reporters to carry their message. Ellsberg, in the 70s, didn't have that option and had to wait for a "news organization" to publish the Pentagon Papers. But publishing and being a news organization are not the same thing. And if you think that news organizations don't have agendas, I have a great bridge I'd like to sell you. At the very least they have as agenda to prove that they're better than the bloggers on the Internet. And often, if not always, they have a lot more to prove.
And congratulations to James Goodale for realizing that the world has changed, and someone can be both a source and a publisher at the same time.
I've been saying this for fifteen years. It's one of those ideas that at first seems unbelievable, then you realize it means freedom and responsibility in a whole different way. Sources Go Direct is the biggest single change in the way news works in the age of the Internet.
When you see a newsmaker with a blog or a Twitter feed, that's a platform for a source going direct. In tech, Fred Wilson, Mark Cuban are great examples. All the politicos with Twitter accounts are sources going direct, but they're not yet using their bully pulpit to great advantage. There's lots more to do, but they still place too high a value in getting their soundbites in the conventional media. That will change.
And for news organizations that are modeled on the pre-Internet news industry, the change can be gradual and relatively easy. Open the gates and take on new writers who you think of as sources. Give each their own platform within your platform, to make it clear that there's a person responsible for what's written here. It's not too late to pick up some big names and get them working on your team. Just beware that they have opinions and points of view, that they are not objective (but then neither are the reporters you employ today).