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 and NYU, 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.
scriptingnews2mail at gmail dot com.
My 40 most-recent links, ranked by number of clicks.
FYI: You're soaking in it. :-)
There was a time, in the year 2000, when everyone was talking music. Everywhere you went. You'd be checking out the cucumbers and lettuce at the supermarket and the person next to you would ask if you were using Napster, and before you could answer they'd be off telling you what they found and how amazing the experience was.
That was already twelve years ago, but I'll never forget it. All of sudden something wonderful and unexpected had happened. Outside the normal. It wasn't planned by some marketing guy. The world had changed and it was great, and we didn't know what the limits were. Or how it would end.
I remember thinking -- I wish Jerry had been here to see this. The other day at the Knicks game I said to one of my friends that this was the first huge thing Steve Jobs missed. (Later I realized that he more or less missed Occupy too, which was just as big as either Napster or Linsanity).
So this led me to a tweet this morning, where I compared the the opportunity the Knicks and basketball have to the opportunity presented by Napster, and realized they're going to blow it. When we were at the game the other day, they had the usual things to keep fans entertained during timeouts. But we didn't need them! Here we were soaking up something as great as Beatlemania or Napster, and they're shooting cheap t-shirts -- advertising for crying out loud -- into the audience as if we needed anything to occupy us.
On the way out of the Garden you could see the signage hadn't changed yet. They had huge pictures of stars, who were still technically playing for the Knicks, but they weren't the story. Don't they have any actual fans working for the team? Yeah they were selling Lin jerseys, the street-level marketers knew how to adjust, but the corporate ones? Imagine what their meetings must be like. Imagine all the sleazy promotions they must be planning.
But they didn't create Jeremy Lin. They didn't even see him. Are they going to define them? Are we going to hate them? (Of course, the only question is what exactly will they do to make us hate them.) This is still America, and we're still run by lawyers and accountants. We just had a breakout of soul, a lot like the joy people had with Napster. Bloomberg shut down Occupy. This too will end. But for right now -- it sure is wonderful!
BTW, a few days ago I wrote about the Beatles, and what happened with them, how Beatlemania ended. One of the four really wanted to be a Beatle. That wasn't enough to drive them forward.
Suppose Facebook or Twitter wanted to be really good netizens, and let you use their service to log onto other services, but to not lock you in. How might that work?
Well, I wouldn't be known on other nets as @davewiner, instead I would be known as dave.scripting.com. That name would be a CNAME for Facebook, if I was using Facebook to guarantee I really am who I say I am. But if, in five or ten years, I decided to use another service, one with a neat feature Facebook doesn't offer, I could point dave.scripting.com at the other server.
It would be like changing your credit card number, something we have to deal with from time to time. Not a great thing, but then not too bad either. You get reminded of all the things you're paying for automatically. I actually like to go through that ritual from time to time. In this case you'd be reminded of all the services that have access to your personal stuff.
I doubt if Facebook would do this, but then a commercial ID hosting service, one that charged me say $10 a year to be my identity server, might be willing to offer such a service and make it easy for me to switch.
And here's the funny part. Such services already exist and they work really well. They're called registrars.
After all these years, the reasons I write my blog remain the same.
1. To influence.
2. To be influenced.
Hopefully, in both cases, for the better. I want to learn things that make what I do better informed, more valuable (however that is defined) and more timely. And I want to reciprocate, to give others the benefit of what I am learning.
The people who read this blog, by and large, are really smart. I'm learning that because, after turning off the comments, I'm hearing from people about my blog that surprise me. People I didn't know read it. If I knew they did, I might ask them what they think about this or that. Or to fill in a bit of knowledge that I am missing and don't find online. But if I don't know they're reading, I don't know to ask.
Further, they read the comments too. That's a surprise. But they don't contribute. Now, to me -- that's not good. In fact, that's bad.
And some read the comments because they like to see my response to off-topic stuff. To that I say *@#$*(&@#. What a waste. I work so hard, really -- every damn day -- to create software that makes this stuff work better, and that's what you look to me for? To those people, hope you find some other place for your emotional thrill. I'm not in that business.
The Mail Pages, very early in the evolution of Scripting News, were the ideal. They were a lot of work, a lot more than comments. But the result was incredible. It was like the stage at a really good conference. The people had important information and perspectives to share, and lots of them shared. They were excited about a new medium and it showed. It was the kind of excitement you see in basketball players the last few weeks, the thrill they're experiencing, that they were always capable of, catalyzed by an improbable star. Newness brings out goodness, it seems.
I hear that some people feel there's a virtue in being silent. I don't. I see it as selfishness. You're willing to take but you're not willing to give. Not a big fan of people who do that.
It's the same gripe I have with the tech investors. When the holes are being dug they don't have any help to offer, but when the ideas are ready for commercializing, they are happy to take the work and run with it. Great. Where's the profit in figuring out what's next? Where's the incentive? Having been around this block repeatedly and seeing unbelievable selfishness, I find myself wishing there was a way to say No, you didn't help so you can't have the benefit.
I've actually had people say, to my face, that my job is to work for free, and their job is to make the money. How could someone actually let those words come out of their mouth, with a straight face, with any honor or self-respect? These are people with kids, who presumably teach them to share what they have, and to help run the house. Yes people do things they don't want to do, because they need doing. So, as adults, why don't they roll up their sleeves and help?
Think about what you want from the net. And what you're willing to give up for that. Perhaps a few of your ideas? Or nuggets of truth you learn by doing what you do? Or if you spot an error in someone else's work, are you willing to help out by writing a great bug report? Think about it when you look for the comments and don't find them. They're not here now quite possibly because you weren't willing to contribute.
If you are willing to help, if you are a generous person, then what's stopping you?
PS: I love that the rotating header for today is the BSOD. Totally random. I had no role in chosing it other than writing the code that uses a random number generator.