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. :-)
We're in a bubble now, and like all bubbles unless you're thinking about it the "right" way, you don't see it. That's how bubbles are. It wouldn't be a bubble if it were easy to see.
To find it, you have to look at your assumptions and challenge them.
And you have to look at the things you've chosen to overlook. The things, which if you think about them, make you feel funny, so you don't think about them.
It also helps to look at past bubbles if you want to see this one.
Bubble N+1 is usually bigger than bubble N. So don't look for one of the same magnitude as the previous one. Look for one that's bigger. Where the boldness of the assumption is bigger.
Also look for the Ponzi scheme. Business propositions that run out of gas when you run out of suckers.
In the last big bubble you would have found it if you looked for financial instruments that bundled low-quality stuff to create high-quality stuff. Bundles of junk mortgages that become AAA-rated securities.
Okay so now I'm going to skp from all that to the nature of the bubble we're in now. I don't want to argue about it, because it can't really be argued. It's up to each of us to come to our own conclusions and bet accordingly. If you're right you might do better than if you bet wrong. Eventually we're going to pop the bubble that's based on the belief that the human species has a future. At that point, unless your bet put you on another planet you're just as fucked as everyone else, no matter how much gold you have, or guns, whether Mitt Romney is President or Barack Obama.
1. The bubble is that you can build value by understanding people's buying habits. Which not pushed to the extreme, is absolutely true -- you can build value that way. But we're past extreme into euphoria. We're believing there's value because we want to believe.
2. We're bundling young people into things called startups, and selling them to investors for ever-increasing amounts of money.
3. In an effort to bring more suckers in, they just passed a law that makes it legal to pimp these startups to people who don't know anything. You will be able to take their investment by swiping a credit card. Probably using a $4 billion valuation Square dongle for an iPhone.
4. They have started incubators in every major city on the planet. Unfortunately it hasn't been stylish to learn how to program for a number of years, so there aren't that many programmers available to hire. And it takes years to get really good at this stuff.
5. Even if they could find enough programmers, there aren't that many businesses to start to satisfy the demand for investment vehicles. A lot like the situation with mortgages in the last bubble. So the VCs and angels and no doubt some very shady folks are putting together deals with people who can't program with no actual idea for the business. Don't look to Y-Combinator, they're the quality act here. But there are incubators in every city from Santiago to Beirut.
6. They're turning universities into incubators. It's happening at NYU and Harvard, two schools I have some familiarity with. Probably everywhere else too, to some extent. But I'd guess these two schools are pretty leading edge. Stanford has been there for a few generations.
7. It just doesn't matter if the businesses are any good, not to satisfy the bubble. As long as more suckers are coming in.
8. No one can stop it. It won't stop until it collapses. This is what was so depressing about Jay Rosen's podcast with Chris Lydon. That's what he said will happen, and he's obviously right. We don't have a mechanism to, as a society, say let's not go all the way with this bubble.
What can we do? See my recent piece about rebooting the Internet dev process. It's a good way to hedge the bubble. So there might be something left when it pops.
Companies aren't stockpiling patents as a defense against patent trolls. They don't work because the trolls don't make anything that could infringe on a patent, unless your patent is about patent lawsuits (don't laugh, I heard there are some).
So when a company says their patents are only defensive, that's probably not the full story.
When Newsweek went under and was bought by the Daily Beast for nothing, I thought the better of the two big news weeklies had just gone away. It was one of those moments like the fall of the Soviet Union that you saw coming, but now that it had happened it didn't seem real. A death in the family, but not someone close. More a marking of the passing of time than anything. So you wonder why, with the door closing on the lifestyle that used to give pubs like Time and Newsweek a reason to exist, that Time sustains the old lie that who they think is influential is meaningful.
I read Jay Rosen's question, why don't people trust the press. So I decided, to help me answer the question, I would turn on the TV and see what they were talking about at the moment. Andrea Mitchell was interviewing Roger Simon about Mitt Romney's dog. He says the story just won't go away. I don't know if that explains why people shouldn't trust the news, but it sure explains why there's no point watching the news.
The other day I wrote about the CNN reporter with the view from somewhere. She probably wouldn't have asked this question. In fact, I challenge the legitimacy of the question. Ask me why I don't trust the news, and I can give you half an answer. To give a real answer you'd have to explain which news are you wanting to know why I don't trust. (And there is some news that I do trust, reporters who I think wouldn't deliberately steer me in the wrong direction, which is what I think it means to trust a reporter.)
Anyway, back to Time's most influential list. What do they mean by that? I look at their list, and many of the people who I know who are on the list don't say very much. How can someone be influential if they don't say anything. Maybe they don't talk publicly but they talk privately to Time editors. And what difference does that influence make? They help them write what goes into Time which I never read?
Do any of these people influence me, independent of what they say to the people who write for Time?
I don't even have to look at the list to know they don't.
I was struck by a comment by Evan Williams on a discussion board a few weeks ago. He said he doesn't really care what people think. You know, I'm right there with him. I like stories, information I can use. If you can sing what you think and it has a nice melody or beat (or both), I care about that too. If you say what you think in the form of a joke that makes me laugh, I care about that. But people just saying what they think. I don't care. I really don't. Just fact. Not meant to hurt your feelings. I don't think you care either. If you're reading this it probably has more to do with the writing style, or your hope that I'll say something I'll regret. People listen when they see an opportunity schadenfreud. Or sex. But you're much more likely to find schadenfreud here than sex.
That's why we like stories about people in cars being trailed by helicopters. A disaster in the making. Or the sports coach who got Alzheimer's at 60 and is so courageous about it.
The news didn't warn us about the death of the real estate market that was coming in 2008. And they weren't suspicious about the war in Iraq. They can report on sports, but that doesn't matter. More real people believe in climate change than network anchors. The news doesn't echo our skepticism or pessimism about the future. They don't help us do anything. And they can't even sing or hold a beat. What good are they!
Trust doesn't even begin to enter into it. Ask if they matter.
BTW, it would be interesting to see Time's list from ten years ago. How much influence did they have, with the benefit of hindsight. And who were really, based on actual influence, the most influential people of 2002? Whose ideas are we still talking about, whose products are we using, etc etc.