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 were a lot of things Steve Jobs was right about.
Probably the most important thing he got right was realizing that you have to build a great stadium before you can invent great sports. An example of this was the decision in 1986 to build every Mac with networking. So you could just string ordinary phone wire through an office and have email or chat or video games connecting all the workstations.
What was so great about this idea was that instead of a glass teletype, you had a full graphic computer, with a mouse, each user with his or her own local storage, all connected just the way users of minicomputers were.
Understand the decision in the context of the times we were living in. You had to be a big thinker at the time to see that the devices we were making were primarily useful for their ability to communicate. Most people thought they were for spreadsheets or word processing. For automating operations that used to take more effort when done manually. It's not surprising, that's how people usually see new technology. But if you choose to think expansively, you can move faster. And Jobs certainly did.
But when it came to the internal architecture of the software running on his machines, and how it connected to software on others, Jobs didn't have many (if any) good ideas. Apple has floundered in this area. And nowhere was that indecision more obvious than in an interview he did at the D3 conference in 2005.
He asked: Why is the file system the face of the OS?
And he answered: "Now, e-mail, there's always been a better way to find stuff. You don't keep your e-mail on your file system, right? The app manages it. And that was the breakthrough, as an example, in iTunes. You don't keep your music in the file system, that would be crazy. You keep it in this app that knows about music and knows how to find things in lots of different ways. Same with photos: we've got an app that knows all about photos. And these apps manage their own file storage."
I've always felt this was the wrong way to go.
The structures you deal with in each of these programs is the same. And the stuff is stored in the filesystem. And iTunes is a user interface disaster, not an example to hold up. This may not have been so apparent seven years ago, but it is today.
You can shuffle the parts around, and you still have the same problem. The data ultimately is organized in a hierarchy. If you can visualize that hierarchy, and provide interactions that make sense to edit and view that hierarchy, there's no reason the same browser shouldn't be used for all types of data. It does not have to be a "wall." All your stuff ends up inter-relating anyway. Do you use the emailer to send music files? Yes of course. Do you use a text editor to write about the podcast you just recorded? Yes. So why have 20 mediocre tools when what you need is one really great one. Why not focus your investment on each type so that investment can be re-used in any context? And not just contexts that Apple employees can envision, contexts that only make sense to a user, far away from Cupertino. I think the problem was the architects that worked for Jobs weren't as expansive as Jobs was, or weren't empowered, or weren't great programmers, or whatever. Apple did not get there. Not in Mac OS, and not in IOS. They did a nice job of packaging an architecture that doesn't work. Jobs basically says that in 2005, but he thought he had it licked then, and now we know he didn't.
When it came to designing boxes, stores, office buildings, Jobs was the best. Numero uno. And a huge believer in focus. Shut out all the noise and focus on the problem you're trying to solve. And keep thinking and trying new stuff out, feeling it, using it, living with it, iterating until it's right.
The same approach can be used with the structures that go inside the computer's memory as with the packaging and the sales environment, and the places where people work. The same attention to detail and nice touches, and overall design.
We're not in the post-PC world as much as we are in the post-Jobs world. When we're done mourning his passing we'll realize that there are huge spaces we never fully explored because his presence loomed so large.
Everywhere I look in news, and I spend a lot of my time looking at news -- I see the industry making what I think is a fatal mistake. They seem to think Twitter is benign. As if it were the web, which of course isn't benign either, but at least it's neutral. Twitter, on the other hand, is imho a competitor to all the news organizations.
This subject came up in the session at Mesh in Toronto in May. It's not enough to understand where an entity is today. You have to factor in where they came from and use that to infer where they're going. Twitter started off being open to anyone for anything. But over time they're closing things off. Adding rules, some of which clearly anticipate competition, that limit how their service can be used. They have been taking functionality off the table. And it's a reasonable bet that that process will continue, not reverse.
A few years ago I was so sure that Twitter would be competing with news orgs that I urged them to start their own realtime networks to compete with Twitter. Just in case I'm right.
Look at it this way. You might have thought, at the dawn of TV, that the Olympics and network television were completely separate things. Or if you were a movie-maker, you might not view your distribution system as competitive. Or pick any other activity, say political theater, where the money from the entertainment and the money from the media slosh over from one bucket into the other, some of it visible and some of it not.
We're still in the early days of online distribution of news. Twitter chose a cute little icon, like Mickey Mouse or Winnie the Pooh. But the sweetness and light will fade when Twitter gets competition. With news orgs going for very little money, and with tech networks becoming sink-holes for cash, how long before the money jumps the gap and Twitter buys a struggling news organization. Look at it this way. How long before Twitter carries exclusive content. Wouldn't it be smart to develop some options?
Well, if you're waiting for the news industry to get smart about tech, my guess is you'll wait a very long time.