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. :-)
Some thoughts about Twitter in late summer 2012, re the news industry.
Twitter is starting to get aggressive and territorial with news organizations the same way it's been with developers. We're all in the same boat re Twitter. They just started earlier with developers and they're further along. I think this is because they understood development better, and other media companies have more to give them than developers did. They've done some big partnering with TV networks. And you see their logos on every bus in New York, and on every TV screen on every cable system in America, and probably by now all over the world.
And they have a big partnership with Apple that gets Twitter a lot of user interface presence on Apple's mobile devices and on the Mac.
I think Twitter and Apple are headed to the same place -- halfway between TV networks and the Internet. More video, more programming, users pressing Like buttons, making wheels spin, watching celebrities and of course commercials.
Twitter has to make what's flowing over their network more appealing, and somehow figure out some more interesting interactivity than they have now. The innovation has been with the users, but Twitter hasn't given users any new tools in a long time. That's where, imho, the competition is going to be. This is still very undeveloped. And Twitter has a problem here because the talent on their network doesn't work for them. But they have so much cash, they can change that.
They'll likely keep partnering with TV networks, as long as none of them have a realtime distribution system that can compete with theirs. Once that happens, it'll be like Iran getting nuclear weapons. If CNN had their own Twitter, and had some good media hackers working for them, they might get a leg up on Twitter. It would be pretty easy to go to another website. I do it, with my tabbed river, and a bunch of other people are using it too. I'm looking for more ways to take this idea on the road. I'd like to fill the channel with these things. I don't care if I do them all. This is the kind of crazy cacaphony that will make Twitter look like old news, give them a reason to start adding new features. That's going to happen pretty soon. If not here, elsewhere. Because Twitter is making themselves smaller and less interesting. Deliberately. I wonder if that's the right move. They're playing as if they have a pretty good hand. Might be bluffing.
The thing is rivers don't take a lot of CPU. They work really well on Amazon S3, and the content software can maintain a bunch of rivers with lots of feeds on a micro instance on Amazon EC2. That makes rivers realllly cheap relative to the systems Twitter is running. And the feeds are everywhere. Think about that. There's no adoption curve to climb here. Love it.
Anyway it's a fluid time because now Twitter is coming out and asserting their rights to content that flows through their servers. I don't think they have a leg to stand on. But that's waking up the news people. I'm sure Twitter knows it will do that.
There's more to what I wanted from blogging when it was starting up in the 90s.
I envisioned user communities that would figure out where products needed to go by pooling their experiences. I got this idea from my own experience as a product developer, and one event that I'll never forget.
Guy Kawasaki came to a Living Videotext party at the St Francis Hotel in San Francisco. Probably in 1987. He gave me a slip of paper with a list of feature requests from an Apple exec, his new boss, Jean-Louis Gassee.
I read over the list, handed it back to him, and said I wanted to meet Mr. Gassee. Why? I recognized the items. They were the top feature requests from users of the product. From that list I could tell that Gassee was using it, and was using it well and often.
Moral of the story: You only learn where a product needs improvement through serious long-term use. Users gain that kind of experience, but reviewers and pundits generally do not. Their observations tend to be superficial. That's why reviews written after a few days using a product often miss the mark. The real greatness or lack of greatness in a product doesn't show up for a few weeks or months. Sometimes even longer.
This was a secret of mine, because most of my competitors not only didn't listen to their users, but they didn't even use their own products. If you want to make great products, never mind the degree in finance or marketing, though those skills are certainly important to running a business. Be both a user and a developer. That way you understand users, and you can make their dreams come true, because they are your dreams too. The reward for that is success.
Once when I was giving this schpiel a very wise and smart man, Yochai Benkler, asked if a doctor had to have the disease to be able to treat a patient. He got me. Sort of. Comparing the use of a wonderful software product to a terrible disease misses the point. Of course the doctor doesn't have to have the disease. On the other hand, why should you make a product that you don't love? Find something you really care about. Can you imagine loving a movie from a director who didn't love it first? (Yes, I just watched a documentary about the career of Woody Allen. He hated Manhattan, one of the greatest movies of all time. But he didn't stop making movies, and if you asked him if he loved movies, if he said he didn't, well, I think he'd be lying. Regardless, we love his movies, even if he doesn't.)
So my hope for blogging was this. That users would write up their experiences with products, and good developers would study what they wrote. And if they didn't some users would learn how to develop, and they would take over the markets, because user-driven products generally win out over ones that are not user-driven.
It's why Twitter, for example, is in trouble -- imho. Their execs are not serious users of the product. And they don't do a great job of listening to users. That's why they are drifting. Facebook, on the other hand, has a strength that Twitter doesn't. Zuckerberg, whether you like him or not, does use his own product.
Also, I never liked the term "eating your own dogfood." Yuck. What does that say about the users! So many of the ways businesses talk about their users are degrading and condescending. This goes back to Respect, which I wrote about yesterday. Respect comes from listening. A developer who does not listen to their users doesn't have much of a future. And if you're a user yourself, you're the most powerful kind of developer there is.