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My new mission

Sunday, January 25, 2009 by Dave Winer.

Ever had this experience? Permalink to this paragraph

You think you know someone, you have them typecast as this type or that, and boom out of nowhere they do or say something that makes you wonder.  Permalink to this paragraph

What do you do then? Permalink to this paragraph

There's no right answer to this question, but I think the answer reveals something about the person who answers it. Are you curious, forgiving, flexible, creative, imaginative, sympathetic? Actually I guess there is a right answer. ;-> Permalink to this paragraph

Yesterday I wrote on Twitter something pretty heavy, but I had just gotten off the phone with a very loving friend, and decided to confront something head-on that's been lurking in the shadows. I keep hoping it'll go away, but it never does.  Permalink to this paragraph

There's this idea out there that I'm rude and angry and do things to deliberately hurt people. Nothing, I mean nothing, could be further from the truth. Permalink to this paragraph

This is what I mean by confronting it head-on.  Permalink to this paragraph

In order to be a successful communicator, which I am -- you have to have a high degree of empathy. You have to be able to jump out of your own body and into the body of the reader, and imagine what it's like to read the words. The writer already knows what he or she is trying to communicate. The only way to judge writing, and thereby improve it, is to learn from people who are confused by it, who draw the wrong conclusion. You don't assume that they failed, quite the opposite, you try to learn how you failed. And then you incorporate that learning into your process. Permalink to this paragraph

The same is true for software design, for getting adoption for ideas like blogging and podcasting, and developer relations -- pushing for RSS, OPML, XML-RPC and SOAP. It's all about communication (at its most mundane) and about empathy. Without empathy, none of this could happen. Permalink to this paragraph

Now for their own reasons, there have always been people who try to stand in the way. You can't get something new done without that happening. This is a lesson I never wanted to learn, but I've had to. It started pretty early in my career, but not at the beginning. When I was a grad student, working on my first outliner, everyone at UW was very supportive. They didn't necessarily understand what I was doing (one prof introduced me as the guy who does great error messages) but they thought it was good that I was trying to create new stuff.  Permalink to this paragraph

The roadblocks first showed up when I shipped my first commercial product. And the second, and so on. In the market, people are always trying to make you stumble. It's called competition. I don't do it much anymore, but I used to do it, a lot. I didn't care if my competitors didn't like me. That's part of the whole thing.  Permalink to this paragraph

But at UserLand I stopped being so competitive, I think that's part of the problem UserLand had, and why it failed. I was more into the open source philosophy like Rodney King, why can't we all just get along. People thought I was a hypocrite, even though I wasn't competing, I guess people thought I was. Maybe that's the only model they have for human behavior.  Permalink to this paragraph

So yes, I am one of the most hated people on the Internet, but I honestly don't believe what people hate is me, I believe they hate what people have told them to hate.  Permalink to this paragraph

And I'm beginning a campaign, a relentless one, to reverse that. 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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Last update: 1/25/2009; 3:00:48 PM Pacific. "It's even worse than it appears."

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