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. :-)
Truth is this -- users are caught between tech and media. Neither of them is looking out for our interest. Each of them own politicians each owns tech. The tech industry is better at tech (no surprise) and the media industry is better at a lot of other things, including getting Congress to do their bidding.
I've been warning the news publishers to be careful about viewing Twitter and Facebook as if they were equivalent to the web. This would be like Kodak trusting Apple to handle its digital photography strategy. We know now how that turned out.
Twitter and Facebook are rich and getting richer. Either of them could easily buy a struggling but independent news organization. Then where would you be if you were dependent on them to distribute news? It would be like the Times depending on Murdoch to print their daily paper. Instead the Times invested in their own printing plant, presumably so they could have better control of the product, both from a creative and tactical standpoint. If Murdoch owned the presses and the trucks, who do you think would deliver the most timely news? They have to think about Twitter that way. At some point they will come to see themselves as a media company, if they don't already.
Caught in the middle is the original idea of the Internet and the web, that people could be media instead of just consuming it. For that to continue, enough people have to see their future as publishing independently, and enough people have to read indpenedently of corporate media, neither originating from Silicon Valley or Hollywood, to keep the flame alive.
I still hope that there's a remnant of the idealism of tech. That there was value in the personal-ness of PCs. The net is the same way. We need to make it always-easier for people to own and run their own infrastructure. People think it's hard, but it doesn't have to be! Each of us can have the equiv of a printing plant, that's the magic of tech. No harder to keep running than a laptop. To those people in tech who still hold to the ideal of free communication unrestricted by government or corporations, please use some of your profits to help guarantee the future of an independent Internet.
Otherwise, I think we can all see this clearly now, the net will be a single amorphous disneyfied mess, not too far down the road.
I remember reading an article in the NYT magazine that had a picture of a young woman who had been horribly disfigured in a fire when she was a kid. They showed her the picture. She didn't know she looked like that. They asked what she saw when she looked in the mirror. She said there was a way of tilting her head and looking only at certain features that made her appear attractive. That's how she hid the truth from herself. This made an impression, obviously, since I read that piece many years ago, but the story stays with me.
Yesterday, I tried to configure an iPad with my mother, for my mother, and we failed. And in the process I saw clearly how awful the process still is, even though you no longer need to tether the iPad to a computer to set it up.
I understand it can be a hard problem, but I also see evidence of different teams working on different parts of the setup and not talking to each other. What else could explain why you have to enter your email address twice in the process?
And why exactly do they need to know her email address? And why does it need to be verified? We paid good money for this device. It's ours, isn't it? How does Apple justify getting in the way of our using it whatever way we'd like to? (Yes, I know that shows how naive I am and what a throwback I am to the days when computers were really ours, when they were personal computers.)
They didn't like the password she chose. It was a good password given that she just wants to play a game with it. But it required 8 characters, at least one had to be uppercase and one had to be a number. The chance of her remembering the password we created? Pretty slim. (And what good is a password that the user can't remember?)
They use so much techinical jargon in the setup process that a normal person couldn't possibly be expected to understand. I didn't write it all down. I knew what to do because I have almost 40 years experience using computers and a couple of degrees in computer science. But if they commissioned a study at Apple to evaluate the setup process, by someone who didn't have a stake in "it just works" as applied to Apple, they would have their eyes opened. This thing is not easy to set up or use. (It is easy to buy, however. That process they have invested in streamlining.)
All I wanted to do was give my mom a way to play Words With Friends with her friends. She's a lifelong Scrabble player, and I think she would enjoy it. But we didn't have a way to access her email from the Starbucks where we did this work, so she left without the iPad. And she's not good at following instructions over the phone. I had reservations about giving her something that would further complicate her computer life. Now I can see what a bad idea this was.
But what if Apple lived up to their claims? What if the iPad really were easy to set up and use? What if they streamlined it so that all unnecessary steps were taken out of the way of a user who just wants to have fun?
I read a quote from Steve Jobs where he said he didn't want to compete with Dell and have the computers delivered by UPS or Fedex because he wanted to experience the joy of an impulse purchase. He wanted to get the credit with his family for bringing home something fun, powerful and easy. I agree. But today's Apple doesn't deliver on that.
My mom says that all her friends who have iPads had to go to the Apple store to get them set up. I'm not surprised. I can't imagine how it could be otherwise.