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. :-)
Recently a developer based here in NY announced that he had started a company to develop something like stuff that I'm openly working on. The first I heard about it was the announcement. I threw my hands up in the air, figuratively, in frustration. Why is this the first I'm hearing about it?
At that point I decided it was time to write a piece about this. There's a rule in here, and it's worth trying to formulate it.
A story. When I was working on my first outliner, in the late 70s, out of my living room in Madison, I had the idea that I was doing something that had never been done before. Then one day I got a call from a friend who said I had to read this book by Ted Nelson. In that book I found that the idea I was exploring had been tried. Of course I was disappointed, but I read the book, greedily, anyway. Here was a chance to see how others were thinking about structural writing. Writing where the organization is as malleable as the words.
So when it was time to introduce it to the world, I did it in a room at the Brooks Hall in San Francisco in a demo to the author of the book, Ted Nelson. I wanted him to be the first to see it, and wanted to know what he thought.
This is the principle. Give the originator of the idea a shot at it. Maybe you can work together instead of working at odds. That's the key point. Both of you have been thinking and doing in the same area. Maybe your work can benefit from all that thinking and doing?
Another story. I don't think any reasonable person would question that I played a similar role to RSS that Ted Nelson played to the web. I think I earned the courtesy of being shown a product that aimed to commercialize RSS. And maybe more than a courtesy, maybe I had ideas that the people hadn't thought of? Maybe there was a vision for the company that could have had them grow to be worth more than the $100 million they eventually sold out for. I actually had those kinds of ideas. And what would it cost to find out?
That's the principle. The first I heard about Feedburner was their press release. I had been talking on and off with all their investors about RSS. So it's not as if they didn't know me, they did. I don't know what causes people to not reach out. Shyness? Fear? Well, if you're shy you shouldn't start a company. Be a dentist or a programmer. Fear of what? You just raised all this money. You're going to be huge. The founder is just a person. What could he do to hurt you or slow you down? If you're driven by fear, again, you shouldn't be an entrepreneur. Try farming or running a drug store perhaps.
I don't yet have a concise formulation for this rule, so here's the long form. You should welcome opportunties to talk with people who you feel are competitors. There's always something to say to them. And you should have an offer for them, or be open to offers. You can't have the same conversation after your product is announced, so have one before. And dilution isn't a bad thing, if more value gets created from a combination. You should always be willing to do a deal that gets you 1000 percent more growth. The possibilities for leverage at the beginning of a venture are the greatest they'll ever be for your startup.
I had a very smart teacher at the beginning of my career. I was getting sales training at the company I worked for. I wasn't a sales person, but hat's off to my employer, who felt that every employee should know how to sell. It's a good investment, no matter who you're talking about.
My teacher told me to be a sponge for information. There shouldn't be one fact that's germane to your business that's public that you don't have. Read and talk and listen, he said. Always be listening. I assume he said this because people almost never listen. But if you want to be a CEO you have to be great at listening.
Somehow I ended up watching CNN last night. Usually I have such a backlog of stuff to read and watch that CNN only makes it onto my screen if there's a primary, and these days even that isn't enough. Who cares what the Repubs say. The clown parade isn't even entertaining anymore. But I was watching Erin Burnett. And I couldn't believe what I was hearing.
I guess when they fired Lou Dobbs they had a slot opened for the crazy dude with the wrong ideas who gets angry about it anyway. That's what the Burnett has turned into, or maybe that's what she always was. I don't find her interesting. In any way.
But here's the deal. She's so far from the truth that if the truth ever started to show up on her show she'd have to get them off the air right away because it would contradict the premise of everything she's reporting.
Last night her outrage was that China was sneaking in the back door and taking Canada's oil from us. Never mind that the price of oil, a commodity, has nothing to do with whose oil you're burning. And that the tar sands that Canada proposes to send to Texas aren't meant to be burned in US cars, rather it's destined for America's refineries. Where the refined oil goes after that is anyone's guess. A barrel of oil is a barrel of oil. Completely fungible. You wouldn't know the difference between Canadian gas or Saudi gas. It all gets the same MPG and destroys the habitat of polar bears just as fast.
It's not just that CNN tolerates lies. It's not just that CNN pays political liars to lie on air. The very premise of their shows are lies. This is no longer about informing people. Whatever it is about, Ted Turner surely would be rolling over in his grave if he weren't still alive. Wonder why he doesn't say something?
BTW, Fox is by far the best of the three networks for reporting news. They have actual reporters in the field with cameras, doing interviews. Like the old days. And if you skip the pundits, who are mostly just as off-the-wall crazy as the ones on CNN, their news doesn't seem to favor one party or another. If they were reporting the same story Burnett was reporting last night, I would expect them to say what she didn't say. That oil is oil is oil is oil. I've seen them do it. CNN? Never.
I say "mostly" because I saw Joe Trippi on Huckabee (on Fox) the other night and they talked slow enough to make sense. And Huckabee, who is known to be a conservative, let Trippi say what he had to say, and they were all very nice to each other. The CNN pundits? OMG. And MSNBC has a choir who would see good news for the Dems even when there's none. The same people who were always on Countdown are still the people you see there. Oy.