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. :-)
When I think of scripting, I go back to the shell scripts I wrote when I was learning Unix in the 70s. That was the great thing about the OS, compared to the Apple II which I used next, and IBM mainframes which I used before. You could tie the apps together with little programs you wrote yourself that moved the output of one app to the input of another. That meant it was easy to print to a file or a printer, or pipe the output of a program to something that would transmit it somewhere else. And when it got there another script could take it and move it through an app on that machine (maybe a mail gateway) and on its way it goes. You could set up all kinds of gadgets. Back when our computers didn't do very much you actually had time to get things Just So.
Just So might be what scripts are all about. It's about making your environment yours. Somewhere along the line we lost our way with scripting, and now our newest systems aren't even scriptable. That is even if you had the time to tweak them up (no one does) you can't.
The place where we actually have the time now are the newest platforms -- mobile devices. Because they are used in places that heretofore we weren't able to compute. They aren't good for writing (not much at least, not for me). But as you're leaving who wants to spend the time to set them up Just So, so that all the stuff we want there is there when we are far away from our desktops. But if you could do it once, and run it forever, that might just work.
The script on your desktop would ask over and over -- Is the mobile device here? Is the mobile device here? Is the mobile device here? When it is, shake its hand and do your thing. And over on the other side would be a similar script saying Are we home yet? Are we home yet? You write both of these, so you control what happens when they touch.
What it takes to really pull this off are better tools and really free environments. Ones that are so free that no one is commercially interested in them, for a while -- so no one can screw them up. I know Android has scripting, but I don't trust Google. I think if we ever get anything good going there, they'll swoop in and correct us. They work for big companies, so they figure they know better than us common folk.
So maybe that's what the open source release of WebOS will come to mean. Maybe it will be the People's OS for mobile. Maybe it'll be out of range of a BigCo to mess up. Or maybe they just took it for a ride in the country and forgot to bring it home? Could be that too.
If you're running a tech or media conference next year, please keep me in mind.
The last couple of years, for me, have been about development, writing, reflection. Now I'd like to spend some time on the road, meeting people, talking about new ideas in publishing, education, journalism, computer science. I'm interested in how the new tools can be used to facilitate change. I'm concerned that we're becoming too dependent on large corporations to manage our online communication.
My background is listed in my bio.
The Republicans have a mantra about taxes on the rich. It goes like this.
1. Many of them are small business owners who have not incorporated, so the profit and loss of their businesses are reported on their personal tax forms.
2. These people create jobs.
3. It's "intuitive" that if taxes were to go up they'd have less incentive to grow their businesses and therefore would not create as many jobs.
When I hear this it makes me pretty angry, esp when the reporters just pass it through without checking to see if it's true. As a person who has run small businesses that create jobs, I had a pretty good idea it was wrong.
First, how many Republican politicians are business people? If they aren't how could they know what's intuitive for business people?
Second, I've never based business decisions on how much I would pay in taxes.
But NPR did something that in a world-run-right would be run-of-the-mill journalism. They checked with the sources.
They asked the Republicans for names of small business people they could interview that would confirm what they say. How many did they get? Zero. They also asked some of the lobbying groups that say the same thing. Again, no introductions. So they went online and looked for some small business people to interview, and got the same answer over and over. They played the interviews. It was inspiring! They're trying to win, in business, not win in taxes. When they have a chance to grow -- they grow, and they don't worry about whether they'll pay more or less taxes. A couple of them said taxes are too low and they worry about the country, and they would happily pay more.
That's what I love about business people. It's an art and a sport. It's best played by creative people, not bean counters, and certainly not politicians.
The Republicans have some other motive, and NPR finally had the guts to call them on it. And they did it the way it should be done. Not with a he-said-she-said piece. Those are cheap and easy. They actually went to the sources and found out.
Give these guys a prize!!
It's always bothered me when people say they're making software for their mom, because that's a not-very-subtle dog-whistle that they're making it for people who are not technologically sophisticated. And that's being polite. I think often it's much more than that. It's one of the few forms of sexism that's still tolerated and defended. After all, how do we know that the author's mom isn't actually the person the software is designed for. Maybe they're making it for sophisticated users who happen to be women? Uh huh. If you believe that I have a nice bridge to sell you. Hardly used.
The way to tell if something is sexist (or racist or ageist or whatever ist) is to change the gender, race or age, and see if it still works.
For example, there is a story in today's NYT that says the new-new Twitter interface was designed for the author's sister. Never mind, for the moment, what the article says about his sister -- what is this headline supposed to convey? Would it convey the same idea if it said the product was designed for a brother? Obviously, not.
Now, diving into the piece, here are some of the words the author (a man, btw) uses to describe his sister:
1. A new user who finds Twitter confusing.
2. She simply didn't understand.
3. She found it incredibly confusing.
4. She's a non-techie.
5. To her the @ and # symbols don't make much sense.
6. She thinks the characters are used in place of swear words in comic strips.
7. She's afraid of the @ and # symbols.
He concludes that this new design makes sense for his sister. Which I find fairly incredible (as in not credible). Most of us haven't been able to try the new interface. Has the author's sister already tried it?
Which raises a couple of more issues.
1. Is this a marketing piece or a news piece? He accepts the company's premise without offering any judgement, any criticism, balance. Would the Times review a movie, book or any other creative act in a similar way? When I say that the general media is in awe of tech, this is what I mean.
2. I hate that large tech companies manage to completely control the initial discussion of their products by controlling who can see it. I still have not gotten access. Perhaps this is because I won't write a puff piece. I might like it, it's happened before. But I might not. Why do we put up with this? Again, would we tolerate it from other creative forms? A new art gallery that was open only to people who regurgitate the marketing message? I don't think it works that way. it's time for tech to grow up, and imho for the reporters covering it to stop playing the exact tune that the company execs call.
And stop using women as examples of confused computer users.