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. :-)
Working news organizations are much more valuable than most people think. You just have to change the context to see that, and project out a few years.
It's all going to change when Twitter buys one of those new organizations. That's when the lightbulbs will go on for the owners of what remains of the worldwide news industry. Because if you change context, you see the news people as a leg-up for the owner of one online news network in competition with the others. A decent portion of the value of those online systems will be in people. Programmers matter, as do support people, testers, people who can keep data centers humming, and people who have their fingers on the pulse of what's happening in business, government, sports, education, travel, food, movies, theater, music, weather, science (I'm just running through the sections of a newspaper).
That's why I've been encouraging the owners of these news orgs to invest in RSS-based news delivery systems. Rivers that gather up quality news flows. That's PE. Most of them don't see it. I bet Hughes and Buffet do. It's so simple. News is one of the big ingredients in the future of networks.
Google's problem is they used Facebook as their guide to upgrading their view of what the Internet is. And that led them away from their strength, and into what I think is a dead-end. Much as Microsoft was led into a dead-end by the web in the 1990s.
The problem with Facebook's approach is more than it has centralized all access to user's data, which they have. They've also centralized the flow of new ideas to the Internet. If you buy the idea that Facebook is the Internet, which is of course the problem for Facebook. Because no matter how big they get, they're still just part of the Internet. All the devices people use to access Facebook can access other parts of the Internet. So if something more exciting comes along, people can get there.
No problem, you say, because Facebook is a very innovative company. But it is a problem, because that's the Facebook of yesterday. The one that occupied a small suite of offices in downtown Palo Alto. That was two iterations of Facebook ago. And they're working on the third iteration. Each is much huger than the previous. And they are all hiring out of the general talent pool of tech.
At best, they can produce a stream of innovation equal to 1.5 previous Facebooks, and that would be a victory. The model for everyone for scaling a company and still producing new products, and new ideas, is of course Apple. But I'd argue that the Apple of the 1980s was far more innovative than the Apple of the last ten years. They took huge unprecedented steps every couple of years. Today's Apple, and there's nothing wrong with this by the way, takes them every five to seven years. And they aren't as big, they're more evolutionary, more refinements of previous stuff. Re-releases. Like Pixar, they ship a new Toy Story every few years.
The value of the Internet is that it represents a common set of protocols and formats that are very widely implemented. Everywhere human beings are you will find HTTP and HTML. Even in space. Even at the poles. Even in the jungle. Or the core of our cities. It is even possible to add new stuff to that. But please study how that happens. Sure some of it comes from the big companies, but lots of it comes from the people. Some of it comes from young people, and some of it comes from people in their 40s, 50s and 60s.
Back in the 90s, there were only three stories carried by the press. Let's see if I remember them:
1. Apple is dead.
2. Microsoft is evil.
3. Java is the future.
Never mind whether they were true or not, what's important was that with the benefit of hindsight we see that these were not the only stories. Just the ones that reporters pushed. Even though they used Apple products, and if they had studied hsitory of tech cycles, they would have known that Microsoft was in its twilight of dominance, and that languages don't change things the way Sun and Netscape wanted us to think they do.
All along, however, all the way from the beginning of my career as a technologist in the 1970s, to the present, there has been the idea that big companies make innovation. This is the biggest impediment to actual innovation. It means that investment dollars go to the wrong places. That people are driven to become big just to innovate. Which is as silly is waiting to be happy until you're rich. By the time you get there, the sex sucks and the innovation is a memory. Instead you're mired in politics, and turf wars and strategy taxes, and execs lack the intuition they had when they were founders because now they live like almost no one else does. Even Steve Jobs drifted away from his roots as he aged. You have to work at staying in it.
If the past is a predictor, here's what will happen. Facebook will exist for a long time to come. They're huge. They've absorbed a lot of the growth of Silicon Valley. They're the continuation of companies like Sun and Netscape, Apple and H-P. Google is out there too, but they are imho where Microsoft was in the 1990s. They too will be here for a long time because it's very rare for companies as large and diverse as Google to go down quickly. It usually takes a generation or two, and sometimes they figure out how to be in it much longer.
But again, if the past is a predictor, new ideas will take root among users and those ideas will grow into the next layer of tech. That's a good place to put your attention too.