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My web site is my space

Saturday, October 03, 2009 by Dave Winer.

ThirdVoice was small and never got large.  Permalink to this paragraph

As long as very few people used it, it was no threat to free speech, but... Permalink to this paragraph

What if Microsoft, who made the dominant web browser at the time, decided to either acquire ThirdVoice or create their own? Permalink to this paragraph

Then almost everyone who read my site would see the commentary first. Imho, that most definitely would have changed the web, for the worse. Permalink to this paragraph

If we hadn't objected to ThirdVoice that would have provided all the excuse Microsoft needed.  Permalink to this paragraph

And Microsoft did try to muck around with web content. But they backed down when the web community strenuously objected. Permalink to this paragraph

Now fast-forward to Google and its Toolbar and the cutely named SideWiki. Clever trick. Could have named it PuppySidebar. Now we'd be seeming to criticize puppies. Some people must think that Google's neo-ThirdVoice is actually a wiki, but of course it's nothing like a wiki. Permalink to this paragraph

And Google has more staying power than ThirdVoice. And they have ambitions to be the leading browser vendor and they have a chance. Then someday soon we may have the ability to annotate any page on the web. Sounds great that way, but do you want everyone viewing the annotated view of your writing? I don't.  Permalink to this paragraph

Phil Windley, who is (I guess) a libertarian, thinks everyone should have the right to view the web any way they want. Who could argue with that. He says my website is not a place, instead I should look at the components. It's actually a collection of documents that can be transferred from one machine to another over a network. But his bank account, like my website, is just a collection of documents that can be transferred from one machine to another over a network. I doubt if Phil thinks we ought to be able to use his money any way we'd like. Maybe he does. He's surprised me before. A picture named sidesmiley.gif Permalink to this paragraph

We buy into illusions that virtual things are real all the time. Our way of life depends on it. The pieces of paper in our wallet used to be redeemable for bars of gold. They were virtual then, now they're not even that because the linkage to gold no longer exists. Even the wood, glass and concrete that makes up a "house" is something that is given meaning by a piece of paper that says Phil owns it, and not a poor family in downtown Salt Lake City. Why should he get to live in that collection of wood and concrete, stay warm in the Utah winter, when other people are cold and go hungry? Because we have conventions. And Phil, even though he doesn't trust government, depends on government to keep him in his house. Otherwise he would surely be out on the street. (Not saying that would be right, it just illustrates that the world isn't so harsh as to say that we have no say in how what we own is used.) Permalink to this paragraph

I don't mind if a small group of people wants to annotate my writing, off on the side, without effecting how other people read it. But that's not what Google is proposing, long-term, to do here. We have to object at the beginning, or we'll have no standing later. My website expresses my point of view. I get to take risky positions, ones that are complicated to explain because I know that here, unlike almost everywhere else, I get to finish a thought. There are so many places for "conversation" -- virtually everywhere. I like my website because it is not one of those places. And yes Phil it is a place, every bit as much as your collection of wood and concrete is. Permalink to this paragraph

This really is my intellectual home. And I think the government should protect it, the same way the government protects my bank account. If Google wants comments, great, put it on their own site. But unless I ask for it, stay out of my space. 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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