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How to get Lessig to blog

Tuesday, August 25, 2009 by Dave Winer.

A picture named lessig.jpgIt's sad that Lessig is "hibernating" his blog, but there's always hope. It's easy to say goodbye, but what's he going to do when he has something that has to be said right now. Wait two years to write and publish a book? I sure hope not!  Permalink to this paragraph

In his supposedly last blog post (heh) Lessig points to his first post, which was a response to something I wrote in response to something he said. In 2001 and 2002. It's interesting to recount the exchange, because only seven years later things have changed a lot. Permalink to this paragraph

1. First Lessig tells a story of Hemingway and source code, an analogy that I feel is flawed. And I say so, very strongly, but hopefully not in a personal way.  Permalink to this paragraph

2. Then in August 2002, I expanded it, and on re-reading it -- I said some things that were a bit too much. A difference of opinion between two learned people shouldn't involve throwing people out and "up yours."  Permalink to this paragraph

3. This got Lessig to write his first blog post! So there is a silver lining.  Permalink to this paragraph

Now the hindsight. Permalink to this paragraph

1. In 2002 I said in five years every member of the US House will have a weblog and will be communicating directly with the electorate. I'd say that's been realized now, only they're using Twitter and Facebook and blogs, and they have to communicate directly with the electorate because the news industry is crumbling.  Permalink to this paragraph

2. The controversy betw Lessig and myself in 2001 and 2002 was over whether software developers should be required to release their source code to get copyright protection (at least that's how I interpreted it). I was vehement in saying no, that we were already putting our ideas out there and that putting the source code out there too would give us nothing to sell. I still believe the logic of that, but since then I gave up on commercial software and in 2004 I released my main work under the GPL. There was no parade, no new respect or even thanks from people outside the community that already used the software. Did it inspire any young would-be designers? Time will tell, but it's looking doubtful. Just saying it's harder to influence the future than it should be, or maybe not -- who knows. Permalink to this paragraph

3. I like to think that Lessig and I have now become friends. Just goes to show that when there's a spark between two people, it may express itself in a variety of ways. I admire Lessig, I've come to see him as an open-minded, generous person who really listens. All good things! Permalink to this paragraph

4. I don't believe for a second that he's given up blogging. 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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