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. :-)
Manton makes a point that everyone with a website should be thinking about.
"Nothing lasts on the internet. I could write on my weblog for years and the next day get hit by a bus. The domain expires, the posts are lost, and it doesn't matter if I had 10 readers or 10,000; it's as if it never happened."
Everything on the Internet is like that. We should fix that bug.
We should make it so there is part of the Internet that does not expire. A place where you can put stuff, write them a check, and be reasonably confident that it will stay there as long as there is human civilization on this planet.
Librarians, this is the conclusion of what I've been writing about re Twitter and the Library of Congress. It's a small piece of a much longer thread on future-safing our Internet-based creations.
A great example. In the early part of the 2000's, my company hosted a lot of blogs at a site called radio.weblogs.com. The company shut down, and the question came up of what to do with the archive? I asked Matt Mullenweg, the founder of WordPress, if he could take care of it. He agreed to. So they are acting as custodian for these sites. But this was too ad hoc, and there are still many other UserLand resources that are not safe, that should be part of a permanent record. What do we do with them? For now Jake Savin, a former employee of the company, is keeping them safe, as a labor of love. This is even more ad hoc.
We could probably pull together enough money to archive this stuff permanently, now while most of the people who had sites there are alive. But over time, that will become more difficult. And this is just one blogging community.
I read an excellent post by Rian van der Merwe about the acquisition of Sparrow by Google. The sentiment was familiar. We've been around this loop quite a few times.
First, who I am. I am a software user and developer. I was a developer for a big company in the early 80s, then started my own company. Sold out to Symantec. Our product, which was a big hit, almost immediately died. Our users were probably pissed, but I didn't hear from many of them. Some of my employees were pissed, they were users and loved the product, and thought I sold out. I did sell out.
There are no two ways to sell out. And the company that buys your product doesn't get it. And they will usually lose the users. Back in the 80s this wasn't factored into the deals. These days the acquiring companies pretty much disclaim it up front. That's what everyone is noticing. Nothing changed really, just that people know more about how these things go.
I learned a lot from the experience, because I loved the product too. Not only did it not survive the acquisition, but the whole category of outliners suffered. A cause I believed in then, and still believe in today. So a lot was lost to make me and my shareholders wealthy. But I did the right thing for me. No regrets.
But there's a lot more to the story. This is just one slice of it.
There's a cycle to tech. Something new and wonderful comes along with unlimited potential. The early users of it trip out. Some of them learn how to program, some of them already know how to. They become the developers of the new thing, and it becomes a platform. Then the investors notice something happening, and the business guys, and press people and money starts pouring in and companies start. More users. Lots more users. And more money and more press and more business people. Soon its a boom.
Then it starts to stink just a little. And then more. And more. Until some people hate the stench.
Then it gets a lot worse. Until a lot more people can't stand it.
Everyone gets pessimistic and thinks this is going to suck forever.
Then everyone realizes that there's a cool little group of people who make shit that looks stupid, especially to the big companies, but their stuff is fun, yeah it's ugly and underpowered but it's fun and has unlimited potential. And look at the cool shit the developers are making. I gotta try it. Can't use it at the day job. Oh shit. I think I should quit and make some products.
Go to top of program. Repeat loop.
What Rian's post says to me is that we're coming close to the point where everyone gets pessimistic and thinks it's going to suck forever.
So keep your eye open for something cool and fun that doesn't really work but has shitloads of potential.
PS: I named my second company UserLand when I realized that the pivotal moment in the cycle is when the users take over. I wrote about this in my Bill Gates vs The Internet post, the one that kicked off blogging, back in 1994.
PPS: It doesn't have to be so cyclic, if the money and business people didn't insist on calling all the shots. So the sellouts are even more expensive that most people realize. For example, how much more growth there would have been if Twitter had said they were a clonable open source platform instead of a company. The founders might have made an order of magnitude less money (instead of billions they might have made hundreds of millions). I think the VCs would have made a lot more because there would have been more ways to slice it up, and more ideas tried out. So net-net we all made a bad choice there, growth-wise. It's one of the reasons I believe that if we can develop a new kind of VC the next time we go around the cycle, the down part of the cycle might not be so inevitable.