Dave Winer, 56, is a software developer 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.
scriptingnews1mail at gmail dot com.
My 40 most-recent links, ranked by number of clicks.
FYI: You're soaking in it. :-)
Earlier I reported that Twitter was down just as I was publishing two big pieces. Then things got worse. The URL shortener we use that runs behind r2.ly went down too. So you were doubly-blocked by a creaky infrastructure that I was actually writing about in one of the pieces that didn't get through.
It's poetry in motion. Actually non-motion.
People worry about SOPA, but you should also worry about the house-of-cards we've built around Twitter. We seriously need to simplify things. The people at Twitter need to hear this. A simple change in their software, that moves the link out of the 140 characters would completely obviate the need for shorteners, and allow us to remove a whole level of brittleness in the infrastructure.
It's always been this way, and the problem has persisted for years. They store a lot of metadata with each tweet, so there's clearly no reason their infrastructure would have any trouble at all supporting it.
Anyway, I temporarily switched to bit.ly, so the blork.ly address we use here is likely to work. As long as bit.ly is up.
Heh. What a mess.
Every year, when I have it together, I name someone blogger of the year.
It's always a person, never an organization -- because that's essential imho to being a blogger. To think of a tech pub like the NY Times or TechCrunch as a blogger is to miss the point. And anyone who is edited, in any way, is not a blogger. Because once you accept editing, you've allowed another mind into the writing. You're no longer finding out what someone thinks. It's not quite as clear.
Not to say one is better than the other. Just different.
Now, for past bloggers -- they continue to impress, in different ways of course because they're individuals. That's what made them such excellent bloggers in the first place!
This year's BOTY is...
In a minute.
First, let me say who I thought of, and why I think he may well be my choice for BOTY next year.
It came as a surprise to me that Stallman is a blogger. Somehow I tripped across his feed. Added it to my river, and since then have been very impressed. Stallman is, in every way, what I think of as a Natural Born Blogger. His impulse is to share. And he has an opinion. And he states it, concisely and with irony and humor. It's really good stuff.
And the thing I like about it most is that it is so concise.
Twitter has made this a value we appreciate, and that's something to thank Twitter for. With conciseness as an established practice, we're heading into a new kind of blogging. What I call a linkblog.
That's why I think Stallman might be a great choice next year, if things turn out as I think they will. I think enough of us will be linkblogging outside the silos to make it interesting. If this happens it will make new kinds of aggregators possible. New news flows. Because freedom has been bottled up in the silos for too long. Too much have we waited for them to innovate in ways that don't cause more money to flow to them. Over time the low-hanging fruit becomes riper and riper. Eventually a strong wind willl come and blow it all to the ground. That's what I look forward to. It didn't happen in 2011, so the linkblog isn't the trend, yet. Maybe it will happen in 2012.
But in 2011, the most value for me was with bloggers who continue to make a strong personal investment in the web outside the silos.
So I was looking for someone who had something to say, and who beat the drum regularly. Someone who said things in clear language that was accessible to large numbers of people. And who said things we really need to hear. Things to think about, to consider, to be reminded of.
Someone who leads and inspires.
I think you're going to be surprised at my choice.
His blogging meets all these criteria and more. I never know what's coming from his corner of the world, but I know when I read it I'm going to have something to think about. Whether I agree or not. All good bloggers do that, push you in a new direction. Change the world by changing minds.
Godin doesn't force his ideas on us. He presents them as part of a smorgasboard of thought that's available in any quantity you like. There's no programming involved. He draws you back to him by the quality of his provocation. He's really the best at what he does, and what he does is important.
So bravo Seth Godin!
Thank you for all the blogging, and please keep us well-supplied with lots of new ideas and ways of looking at things.
I published my end-of-year think piece, The Un-Internet, about an hour ago by posting it to my linkblog. Which, among other places, flows to Twitter. Which is down.
This has blunted the impact. No retweets, no kudos, no condemnation!
Proves the point of the piece so damned well.
We're way too dependent on the Un-Internet., which behaves somewhat like the Internet, but has chokepoints that can cut off the flow. The whole point of the Internet, from the point of view of the US Govt, was that it couldn't be cut off this way.
I like to say that RSS doesn't have a fail whale.
It's at times like this that it doesn't seem so cute.
The tech world is in an infinite loop.
I've written about it so many times, but that's how it goes with loops. You don't have to write original stuff more than once. Each time around the loop, at some point, everything comes back into style.
No need to list all the loops, other than to say Here We Go Again!
At issue is this: Control.
For whatever reason, the people who run the tech companies want it. But eventually the users take it.
I wrote in 1994, my first time as a chronicler of the loops: "The users outfoxed us again. It happens every fifteen years or so in this business, We lost our grounding, the users rebelled, and a new incarnation of the software business has been created."
In the same 1994 piece: "Once the users take control, they never give it back."
You can see it playing out in the Twitter community, and now the Tumblr community.
It isn't a reflection on the moral quality of the leaders of the companies, to want to control their users. But it's a short-term proposition at best. Either the companies learn how to take the lead from their users, or they will be sidelined. Unless the laws of technology are repealed, and I don't think laws like that can be repealed.
Lest you think I was smart enough to see this coming in my own early experience as a tech entrepreneur, I wasn't. We were scared of software piracy, didn't understand how we could continue to be in business with software that could be easily copied. So we established controls that made it difficult for non-technical users to copy the software. That created a market of other software that would copy our software. So it was reduced down to whether or not the users would knowingly do something we disapproved of. Many of our users were honorable, they did what I would have done in their place. They stopped using our products. I would regularly receive letters from customers, people who had paid over $200 for the disks our software came on, with the disks cut in half with a scissor. These letters made their point loud and clear. One day everyone took off their copy protection, and the users got what they wanted. I came to believe then that this is always so.
This time around, Apple has been the leader in the push to control users. They say they're protecting users, and to some extent that is true. I can download software onto my iPad feeling fairly sure that it's not going to harm the computer. I wouldn't mind what Apple was doing if that's all they did, keep the nasty bits off my computer. But of course, that's not all they do. Nor could it be all they do. Once they took the power to decide what software could be distributed on their platform, it was inevitable that speech would be restricted too. I think of the iPad platform as Disneyfied. You wouldn't see anything there that you wouldn't see in a Disney theme park or in a Pixar movie.
The sad thing is that Apple is providing a bad example for younger, smaller companies like Twitter and Tumblr, who apparently want to control the "user experience" of their platforms in much the same way as Apple does. They feel they have a better sense of quality than the randomness of a free market. So they've installed similar controls. Your content cannot be displayed by Twitter unless you're one of their partners. How you get to be a partner is left to your imagination. We have no visibility into it.
Tumblr has decided that a browser add-on is unwelcome. Presumably it's only an issue because a fair number of their users want to use it. So they are taking issue not only with the developer, but with the users. They have admitted that the problem is that they must "educate" their users better. Oy! Does this sound familiar. In the end, it will be the other way around. It has to be. It's the lesson of the Internet.
My first experience with the Internet came as a grad student in the late 70s, but it wasn't called the Internet then. I loved it because of its simplicity and the lack of controls. There was no one to say you could or couldn't ship something. No gatekeeper. In the world it was growing up alongside, the mainframe world, the barriers were huge. An individual person couldn't own a computer. To get access you had to go to work for a corporation, or study at a university.
Every time around the loop, since then, the Internet has served as the antidote to the controls that the tech industry would place on users. Every time, the tech industry has a rationale, with some validity, that wide-open access would be a nightmare. But eventually we overcome their barriers, and another layer comes on. And the upstarts become the installed-base, and they make the same mistakes all over again.
It's the Internet vs the Un-Internet. And the Internet, it seems, always prevails.