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. :-)
1. A bookmarklet. When I'm on a page and want to shoot a link over to people following me on Twitter, or Facebook, all I have to do is click a bookmarklet and type a comment and hit Submit. The process is considerably more onerous for GP. Lots of things to remember how to do. I don't remember. So I don't do.
2. A very very simple API. Just give me a way to post an item to Google-Plus from a web app. I already have such an app for Twitter, so I can use my own tools to write and publish where ever I want (including to an archive so I don't lose these suckers). I have the problem solved on my end, after years of fussing and figuring. Now please, the API only has to do this. You have to be able to write one of these in an afternoon.
3. If you really want to blow people away -- I mean really blow them away with a very powerful idea about data independence, publish an archive, in XML or JSON (RSS would be nice) to my S3 bucket, of everything I write on Google-Plus. Then it would become the home network for every power user of social networks. And tool makers. It's not enough to make the data easily exportable. If you really want gobs of (deserved) attention and kudos, and to raise the bar really high for your competitors, provide a real-time off-site backup, and at the same time connect up to Amazon's cloud. You may not like them, but we do. Lots of us. Worth reaching out to.
Okay, I know they're not going to do #3. But I wanted to at least give it a shot.
PS: To Bradley Horowitz who, in a comment here, said I know how to reach him. I do. I write a blog post on Scripting News. (I didn't want any of my readers to think there was an insider's back-channel. Nope. Not here.)
I read yet-another article about how RSS readers do it wrong, and reward people for using Twitter as their feed reader. This pains me, because it's not RSS's fault, it's the fault of people who designed RSS readers to work like mail programs. RSS is not mail, and when you try to make it mail, you make something that doesn't work.
First basic fact about RSS is that it's for news.
I don't think this comes as a surprise to anyone.
So when you make something for reading RSS, think about making something that works for news.
If you miss five days of reading the news because you were on vacation (good for you!) the newspaper you read the first day back isn't five times as thick as the normal day's paper. And it doesn't have your name on the cover saying "Joe you haven't read 1,942,279 articles since this paper started." It doesn't put you on the hook for not reading everything anyone has ever written. The paper doesn't care, so why does your RSS reader?
The reason readers work that way is that this is a "feature" they can implement, and they think it's neat (the programmers and marketers) so why not? Well, if you make your users wrong, they're eventually going to tell you to fuck off. Which gets you articles like the one on TechMeme today.
Great. How about instead giving them what they want.
Which is this: An RSS reader that works like Twitter.
Which is what I've been asking people to do since we started with RSS in 1999.
I'll leave you with a pointer to my own RSS flow, something I decided to make public a couple of years ago so people could easily see how I think it should be done:
That's it. Really simple. Like the name says.
Yesterday morning, very early, I got a text message from AT&T confirming that I had changed the passcode on my account, and to call them (number included) if I hadn't done this. Very typical security measure, and useful too -- because I hadn't changed the passcode on my account!
I called the number, was told they aren't open yet, and I should call back during business hours. Hmm.
I then forgot about it, until I got another message as I was getting ready for my bike ride, saying that my passcode had been changed, same number -- call them if it wasn't me. This time there was someone there. I waited and waited. Finally talked to someone of indeterminate gender with a fairly heavy Philippine accent. This person couldn't understand that I wasn't the one who changed the passcode. Hshe kept saying "But you called us..." and I kept saying "No I didn't." For this I got noted as a difficult customer, and was referred to a supervisor. Who came on the line after 15 minutes on hold listening to insipid marketing for AT&T telling me that if I was like them I was always forgetting things, and they could help by taking money out of my account automatically. Thanks. Along with a half dozen other similarly ridiculous bits of personal advice delivered by a robot. The supervisor comes on, same deal. No clue as to gender, kept referring to me as "David" (a name only my mother uses), and kept saying over and over that I made the call changing the passcode. How does it know I made the call, I asked. Because you had the passcode. I said this is a security issue, please transfer me to security (thinking of credit card companies and how they clamp down quickly as soon at even a hint of a security issue). More complaints from this person that I was interrupting, and wasn't being a cooperative customer, and it was just trying to help me. So I said help me out and get me to security. Silence. I look at the phone. No call.
I call back. This time the operator sounds like she's in Dallas or St Louis, maybe Seattle, and is definitely a woman. After explaining both issues (the security issue and the impossibly bad service) she apologized and said she would be right back. Another 15 minutes listening to the same insipid messages. While I'm on hold, I remembered that I was borderline about cancelling this account, and didn't do it because I didn't want the hassle. Since I am already on hold, putting up with the hassle I was trying to avoid, why don't I just close the account? I decided that if there was the slightest difficulty I would.
When she came back, she said some nonsense about how it wasn't a problem. The person had changed my passcode (I still wasn't clear what aspect of my relationship with them the passcode covered, I was talking with them, they accepted I was who I was when I gave them my old passcode. I was able to access the website, where I paid my bill while on hold to be sure I could cancel the account). I asked for an explanation of what she said because I didn't understand. She just read the same nonsense words to me again. So I said I want to close the account. I figured that would be something they would know how to handle. She started to do it, put me on hold, then the line went dead, again. (It occurred to me later that this is a phone company and they keep losing the phone connection. Anyone else see a problem here. Also I bought the phone from Apple. They were the ones that chose this incompetent company to do their phone service.)
So I called back, and this time got the rentention script. Sorry to see you go Mr. Winer. We'd love to keep you as a customer. Etc. I said no, I just want to close the account. She puts me on hold, another 15 minutes. I wonder if this is part of the script. Put them on hold, a certain percentage will give up and we keep the revenue flowing. Eventually she comes back on the line, and says the "Customer Service Team" wants to speak with me. I bet they hired a psychologist to come up with that term. The team is interested! Yeah. Another ten minutes on hold, same insipid adverts, finally this intelligent-sounding deep-voiced woman comes on. I don't know how the intelligence was conveyed, but it was there. She said blah blah sorry to hear you're leaving us (make it personal) first I need to ask you why. I said no comment. She insisted. I asked if it was possible to close the account quickly without a long discussion. After a few backs and forths she agreed to close the account. I wanted it to be done immediately. She said I had to wait for the end of the month and then there's a period of 60 days when I can turn it back on without penalty. Thanks. I got off the line.
Then I realized there are 60 days for the person who hacked my account to call back and re-establish the service.
I wonder if it was really a hacker or if their computers went crazy.
Anyway, hopefully, I'm now down to one phone line. I have an iPhone 4 in fairly good condition that will be useless in a few days, with any luck. The Verizon Droid that's still connected has totally worn out, and often doesn't work to make or receive calls. I need to disconnect that one too, and then go month-to-month, probably with TMobile on the fully-paid-up Nexus S that I bought in April (and use for nothing now) and wait for the iPhone 5 to come and the must-have drool factor to take over. I've gone from three lines to one, for now. And it occurs to me that from now on I should just be month-to-month, makes terminating easy, just don't re-opt-in. Yeah I think that's right.
Previously: I terminated my Verizon Mifi in August.