I don’t want to bore you guys or suck up to him, but I am amazed that no one points this out.

1. He invented RSS.

2. He, along with Adam Curry, pioneered podcasting.

3. He knew people would love Twitter in 2001.

4. He was one of the first bloggers around.

5. He is a visionary in journalism.

6. He pioneered the concept of editing pages without messing up with the code.

Yet, he sucks at webdesign. Don’t have to link to anything here, just look at the websites above. I think he does this on purpose to emphasize the technology behind his sites.

I also laugh at the people who criticize him and say that RSS is dead. If it is dead, stop using it! It is the backend of thousands of web applications and it enables cool new innovative products. Twitter is cool and all of that, but it is completely limited and controlled by a single company. Plus, RSSCloud and PubSubHubBub is coming.

Anyway, what do you guys think about him?

  1. bobbo, knowing nothing, happy to comment says:

    “Generically” this is the: “Do men create history, or do they ride its wave?” type of question.

    I never heard of the guy.

    Did he “do” anything really innovative, or was he just there riding the wave?

    Just interesting how certain people become associated with things and get a name/rep/entry into a book.

    When you read and study, always turns out 15 other people were doing the same thing, bits and pieces of it, and someone said to do it 5 years earlier.

    Even Einstein.

  2. James says:

    Yes, Dave Winer is brilliant. Too bad his web site looks straight out of 1998 GeoCities, and his podcast is dull. If he promototed himself a bit better, he could be a superstar. Instead, Adam Curry gets all of the credit.

  3. Guilherme Cherman says:

    #2, Curry does not get the credit for podcasting. In fact, it is quite the opposite.

  4. Paul Benjamin says:

    I like to think of him like a glass of nitroglycerin. He can do useful work if he is handled with respect and care but will blow up in your face if you make a mistake. The tech industry is full of assholes who made too much money on a good idea.

    He fairly good writer with some fairly good ideas. Just remember that he can be a jerk or wrong also. In short he is a human being. Don’t put him up on the pedestal with the statues of the gods. He will hop down and and get in your face with a stupid idea next week.

  5. uSI4 says:

    Sucks at web design? ROFL

    His site is the ONLY one on the entire web that’s readable.

  6. Jägermeister says:

    “1. He invented RSS.”

    He didn’t invent RSS. The concept for RSS was already there.

    Anyway… this is the first time I heard of this guy.

  7. whaap says:

    I could do as well without the crap he’s credited for.

  8. Guilherme Cherman says:

    #8, without RSS and podcasting? I don’t think so.

  9. qb says:

    Ramanathan Guha was the driving force behind RSS in the late 90’s up to the first major release (0.9). Winer got onboard around that point and added elements for 0.91 and really ran with it until 2003 when 2.0 was released and he gave the copyright to Harvard.

    The RSS (0.92) enclosure tag really did start podcast syndication and was one of those tiny technology pieces that paid big.

    As for inventing things, I’m not so sure. However he is amazingly good at spotting trends and self promotion – two skills not to be underestimated.

  10. Chuck says:

    If Dave wants someone else to blow his horn, he’ll have to stop blowing it himself first…

  11. Tim Yates says:

    As someone who only knows Mr. Winer through his accomplishments and his Tweets. I have a great admiration for his work and despise him as a human being for what he stands for personally.

    Thanks Asshole, and I mean it.

  12. Jägermeister says:

    #10 – qb – As for inventing things, I’m not so sure. However he is amazingly good at spotting trends and self promotion – two skills not to be underestimated.

    That pretty much sums up my opinion about him as well.

  13. msbpodcast says:

    He DID do all the crap he is credited for, he was the FIRST to do it (thank your stars he did,) and no, he is not the most even-tempered man you could want to meet because he does not suffer fools gladly.

    RSS is essential to syndication and nobody thinks that they can do without it, except idiots and ignorant, petulant children who’s grasp of tech is flimsy.

    And he knew it wouldn’t take off without being given away because it was too “way out there.” So he gave it away and that also pissed him off.

    He’d had a idea and the only way it would fly would be is he wasn’t trying to make a buck off of it. (That would have been the death knell for RSS.)

  14. FriendsOfDave says:

    Daves a great guy if you follow a few simple rules.

    1. Dave talks to you not with you.

    2. No one is as smart as Dave, just ask him.

    3. If Dave doesn’t know something then it isn’t worth knowing.

    4. Everyone but Dave is either an idiot or a retard.

    Remember and follow these rules and you’ll be his best friend in no time!

  15. Anonymous says:

    I don’t use ANY of that crap! I strictly use a browser when I want to connect to cyber-space since THAT’S ALL THAT’S NEEDED! In fact, I’m using one now – go figure. I’ve also turned off all my cell phone data since I’m not some “brown nose” who’s electronically tethered to my boss’s butt nor anyone else’s butt too! Believe it or not, I use a phone, cell or otherwise, to TALK to people!

    Using RSS or checking the “tweets” is rather pointless and an incredible waste of time. This guy is no “visionary.” That is unless you consider his genius for marketing time wasting tech to the clueless masses who gobble it up like turkeys in late October.

    In essence, I HAVE A LIFE! And this dude ain’t part of it.

  16. jccalhoun says:

    In essence, I HAVE A LIFE! And this dude ain’t part of it.
    Way to take time our of your life to post on a website and show us just how much of a life you have!

  17. jbenson2 says:

    Several of these postings do a great job of explaining Winer’s total lack of social skills when dealing with other human beings.

  18. TonyB says:

    Where would podcasting be without RSS?

  19. sargasso says:

    Gimme a GPS receiver that RSS’s it’s co-ordinates. There, another example of the usefulness of this guy’s idea.

  20. michael says:

    What’s wrong with Dave’s design? It’s actually similar to yours, John, but minus the ads. I happen to like the simplicity and functionality of it.

  21. Joe Morton says:

    I’m disappointed to see an experienced tech journalist like yourself spread the falsehood that Dave Winer invented RSS.

    Dan Libby and Ramanthan V. Guha at Netscape created the first version of RSS in March 1999. Winer created ScriptingNews format, an early syndication attempt he scrapped when he switched over to RSS.

  22. Luc says:

    Why does everything have to be so extreme? Why does Winer have to be either a genius or an idiot?

    Apparently, he is not a particularly charming individual. I know very little about him. Specifically, I heard him on TWiT once and I hated his guts right away, even though he was introduced by Leo as some kind of genius and described a very interesting (and outrageous) problem he had with Apple and his notebook’s hard disk. I don’t like Apple, but that was certainly not enough to overcome the strong, negative impression I had of him. I also checked a few of his articles afterwards and did indeed detect a fair bit of arrogance.

    Winer is just a tech guy doing a pretty good job. I don’t looove his “inventions”, but it seems an awful lot of people do. That’s pretty good credentials to me. Apparently, Einstein wasn’t such a nice fellow either. That’s their business, no one else’s. We don’t need to be their friends, we just need every guy out there constantly wearing a thinking cap and coming up with ideas, especially since there are so few of them.

    The whole problem is this article:

    1. He invented RSS. No, he didn’t!

    2. What is the big deal about “pioneering” something on the Internet? That’s as annoying as those silly characters who use the “I’ve been around since BBS” line as credentials in their online discussions. I spend a lot of time on the Internet, too. I must have “pioneered” a lot of stuff that became very popular or remained totally obscure. What’s the big deal? Is this a gold rush where you get dibs on exploration of stuff you didn’t create yourself to begin with?

    3. He knew people would love Twitter in 2001. “He knew”? He just chose a format that he liked and “he knew”? Then how come he didn’t invest a lot more on that idea? Give me a break. That page is not even that similar to Twitter. It’s something quite different. How about another theory: Winer didn’t really have a clue. Someone else saw that page (or some other) and came up with Twitter. Who in fact created what?

    The article sticks firmly to this idea that Winer “pioneered” stuff so he is a genius. So someone invents the wheel, you like the wheel, you use the wheel and – bang – YOU are a genius? The overall tone of this article is quite silly.

    Jägermeister #7 #13, either someone is using your screen name or you form an opinion amazingly fast!

  23. Somebody says:

    Wow! That’s an impressive list of contributions!

    I guess I’d really admire him if he wasn’t Jewish.

  24. foo says:

    did you actually click on the links you gave?
    “RDF Site Summary, the first version of RSS, was created by Guha at Netscape in March 1999 for use on the My.Netscape.Com portal. This version became known as RSS 0.9.[4] In July 1999, Dan Libby of Netscape produced a new version, RSS 0.91,[2] which simplified the format by removing RDF elements and incorporating elements from Dave Winer’s scriptingNews syndication format”
    And most of the other links are also way overstated.
    RSS 2.0 *IS* dead, nobody uses it today (we use RSS 1 and Atom), he had nothing to do with PubSubHubBub, rssCloud has been vaporware for ages and he’s doing it wrong all over again.
    Credit is given where it is due. He did help some things along but he’s not a genius.

  25. gus says:

    1. he pioneered RSS and clearly had a LOT to do with it’s creation as we know it today.

    2. yup, same.

    3. So what, I did too.

    4. Yea, so?

    5. Winer is not a Journalist, he’s a op/ed writer.

    6. Yup, and he should go back to developing that platform.

    7. You forget. He also created MORE! which was the precursor to powerpoint and other outline based presentation tools.


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