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An hour with Jeff Jarvis

Wednesday, July 29, 2009 by Dave Winer.

Just spent an hour at a Starbucks in NY with Jeff Jarvis of BuzzMachine. We talked about a lot of stuff, mostly about news and tech. Toward the end of the conversation he asked if I had any advice for his 17-year-old son Jake, who is already a successful software entrepreneur, having developed and sold a Facebook app for a fair amount of money, esp for such a young man.  Permalink to this paragraph

A picture named santa.gifHere's the advice I offered: Permalink to this paragraph

1. Be a user. Develop apps you yourself have a use for. If you don't have a feeling for what it's like to be a user, you'll never know how to evolve the products, and the stuff you learn in #2 will never make sense. Permalink to this paragraph

2. Listen to users. Learning how to code is straightforward, it takes time to perfect your skills, but it's relatively easy compared to the skill of listening. I recently suggested to a VC friend that we start a company whose sole differentiator is that it strives to perfect the art of listening to users. I feel that it would pretty much have the market of user-driven tech to itself. This doesn't mean that you get your drive from users, that has to come from your creativity, but it does mean you get your grounding from them. Without connecting with users, your products have no purpose.  Permalink to this paragraph

Someday maybe I'll teach a course for software engineers on these two skills. It would be challenging, but out the other end would probably come a handful of really powerful entrepreneurial software people. 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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