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Podcasting and RSS at Berkman

Wednesday, May 21, 2008 by Dave Winer.

A picture named From Clipboard 8.jpgI mentioned here my surprise and pleasure that, at the Berkman@10 conference, Harvard Law prof Terry Fisher claimed, in his opening remarks, that Berkman played a pioneering role in podcasting. It's very true. And it happened in a number of ways. Permalink to this paragraph

1. The first meeting of people interested in the technology took place at the Oct 2003 BloggerCon, hosted at Harvard. You'll see this meeting mentioned prominently in every history of podcasting. A lot of the people working in this area were there and freely exchanged ideas, techniques and enthusiasm. (The Day 2 grid for the first BloggerCon.) Permalink to this paragraph

2. It was at Berkman, with the help of Bob Doyle and the talent of my fellow Berkmanite Chris Lydon and the support of John Palfrey and the rest of the Berkman team that we did the first podcast program, a series of interviews of early bloggers, technology leaders and people making news. We distributed these through Chris's blog, and also through, for the first time, an RSS 2.0 feed with enclosures. Permalink to this paragraph

3. It was also at Berkman, in June 2004 and through the Democratic Convention in Boston that summer that I started Morning Coffee Notes, my own podcast, that broke new ground. It seems that my amateurish but very enthusiastic (and imho creative) efforts served to inspire many others. Where people heard my rough podcasts many thought "Hey I could do that too." Permalink to this paragraph

Nothing like podcasting ever takes off like people say things like that do, it's never a big bang, or the "build a better mousetrap" myth. It's always iterative, trial and error. You needed Chuck Berry and many others before the British Invasion could happen and then the Beatles. We're probably still in the early days of the art of podcasting, but there's no doubt that Berkman played a big role in incubating and nuturing the initial seed. Permalink to this paragraph

John Palfrey gave an interview to Harvard Law Today where he summed up the story with remarkable economy. If you're interested in the area, the PDF scan is worth a read. Permalink to this paragraph

John also talks about the invaluable role Berkman played in stabilizing the RSS 2.0 standard.  Permalink to this paragraph

PS: A list of topics discussed at all four BloggerCons. I keep looking for this list. Permalink to this paragraph


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A picture named dave.jpgDave Winer, 53, 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, 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 Berkeley, California.

"The protoblogger." - NY Times.

"The father of modern-day content distribution." - PC World.

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.

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