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Gatekeeping is a losing strategy

Friday, August 14, 2009 by Dave Winer.

Human beings are funny. They struggle to get noticed. Only a few do. And of those only a few get powerful enough to control which other humans get noticed. These people are called gatekeepers.  Permalink to this paragraph

The idea comes from the days when rich people had gates. The richer you were the bigger and more impressive the gate. I once bought a house that had a gate, but I had it removed. All that was left were two big stone pillars, ornaments with no purpose. They also had a gasoline pump and tank on the property. I had them removed too. Then I removed myself, and now I live in a noisy neighborhood with people walking by all the time. That's how I like it. I learned that I don't like to be isolated, even though I was raised to think privacy is a good thing. Instead we thrive with lots of other humans around us.  Permalink to this paragraph

You know how Doc says there's no demand for messages? Well, there's no demand for gatekeepers. In fact there's negative demand for them. Because once a gatekeeper sets up shop, we immediately begin to figure out ways around them.  Permalink to this paragraph

A picture named soupNazi.jpgOn the Internet we call them outages. Gatekeepers are outages. They're the connections that don't get made because someone imagines themselves powerful enough to prevent them. But it's only temporary. Like a river that encounters an obstacle, eventually water (influence) piles up behind it, and then either flows over or around it. There's not much future in being an obstacle. Permalink to this paragraph

If you live long enough in tech, you get to see this happen over and over. I've lived a long time already, and I can testify. I've watched people, even friends, get the idea their influence was so permanent that they, like the Soup Nazi on Seinfeld, could say No soup for you! if there was something about you they didn't like. Only in this case, instead of soup, it's flow. My advice -- don't believe it. Permalink to this paragraph

A long time ago I discovered this fundamental rule of the net -- People come back to places that send them away. Places like Google, Yahoo, Craigslist, Youtube, even Twitter. These are the mainstays. You go there to get somewhere else. Sites that try to suck you in and hold you there, no matter how cleverly, go away. While it may seem like a good approach at first, long-term it's a losing strategy. 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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Last update: 8/14/2009; 6:54:38 PM Pacific. "It's even worse than it appears."

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