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Formats are like trees, microbes and cockroaches

Friday, June 05, 2009 by Dave Winer.

FTP will be around for a long time, just as HTML and SMTP will.  Permalink to this paragraph

I still deploy apps today that use FTP to transmit files. For example, I have a flow of AFP wire photos that streams through an app running in the OPML Editor. They send the photos via FTP. A huge number of bits are transmitted this way, every day. Billions of them, just to my server. Permalink to this paragraph

In turn, I transmit those bits to a server on wordpress.com, using XML-RPC. Another protocol, which, like FTP, will be around for many years to come. Permalink to this paragraph

I call a server somewhere in the world (probably in US) running software written by a man from Turkey, that turns these pictures into thumbnails. To do that transaction we use HTTP.  Permalink to this paragraph

I have a River of News aggregator running on a server in my house. It reads feeds in a variety of formats and presents the results in HTML over HTTP. Permalink to this paragraph

A picture named tree.jpgI have an app running on my living room computer that reads the feeds of some of my friends, and when it detects a new item in one of them it posts a message to a Twitter feed. It uses RSS on the input side, and calls the Twitter API using HTTP in an XML-based format of their own invention which is sure to become a standard because of the popularity of Twitter. I read these results on twitter.com, and over 1000 people follow this feed, accessing it from a wide variety of Twitter clients, spread over the world. Permalink to this paragraph

I could go on and on. I've been programming similar apps for many years, they are deployed on lots of machines, and they use all manner of formats and protocols. None of them are going to "die." You can no more get rid of them than you can all the microbes that inhabit the human body. If you tried, you would die long before they did.  Permalink to this paragraph

I once told a live oak tree on my property in Woodside, a very beautiful stately tree that had been there for decades, that I owned it. The tree laughed. "I've been here for decades, and I will be here decades after you're gone." That was 15 years ago. The tree was right. I left Woodside in 2003. Permalink to this paragraph

I moved to the Internet in 1994 from heavily controlled platforms, because it was and is the platform without a platform vendor. Every once in a while a company comes along that looks like, to some, that it will suck up all the energy of the Internet behind their domain. Don't bet on it. More likely, they will advance the art in some useful way, and then distribute their users the way a flower disburses seed.  Permalink to this paragraph

If you're looking for something that will die, look at the companies, not the formats and protocols. They're like cockroaches and microbes, and the trees -- they'll be around long after the companies are gone. They get the last laugh. A picture named sidesmiley.gif 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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