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PBS could become a cause for the web

Tuesday, May 12, 2009 by Dave Winer.

A picture named blueribbongm.gifWriting about open formats got me in the heady mood of the 90s. Back then we believed the Internet would be a free speech engine of democracy. I still do, to this day, but it doesn't dominate discourse the way it did back then. Today, money is more important. The purity of the early vision has been tainted by abominations like "user generated content" and "crowd sourcing." In the 90s, our websites had blue ribbons which stood for freedom. One of mine still does, to remind me of those days. Permalink to this paragraph

Anyway... Permalink to this paragraph

NPR is having its pledge drive, so I gave my money -- $150 for the year, and I encourage you to give what you can. I listen to NPR, and watch PBS. I like FreshAir, All Things Considered, Frontline, Nova, Bill Moyers. And I admit that when there's a new Frontline, I download it via BitTorrent, and I seed it to make sure it's available for others. This adds to my $150 annual contribution. I'm giving some of my bandwidth to make sure people who live outside the US and who may not be near a PBS station, can get this stuff. I want them to know how we see ourselves in the US.  Permalink to this paragraph

Is this legal? I don't know. Does PBS object? Again, I don't know. Until now, I've never asked. Permalink to this paragraph

If they do, I'd encourage them to look again. BitTorrent is a very rational technology. It's a perfect fit for PBS. And it's not well understood by even some tech companies like Apple, who is banning it from the iPhone. And it's being throttled by ISPs, when they can.  Permalink to this paragraph

Now here's the pitch. If PBS actively promoted the BitTorrent distribution of their programming, the same way it distributes podcasts of the NPR shows, it would become a celebrated cause of the net. I tell people to give, but now I could give them another reason. PBS is embracing the Internet, and helping develop the platform in a way only they can do. Permalink to this paragraph

Think about it. Permalink to this paragraph

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A picture named dave.jpgDave Winer, 54, 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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