SE Podcast #27 - Dave Winer

by Alex Miller

on November 16, 2011

Jeff & Joel are joined today by Dave Winer, who's upset that we don't have a jingle to start the show! He "invented" (well, pioneered, really) the XML-RPC protocol. Dave tells us the story of how and why the protocol came to be.

  • Right now, Dave's working on a "magnificent symphony of software" - it's the communication system he wants to use. It involves a minimal blogging tool with only RSS output (plus a dongle that will push the RSS to twitter, etc), a "River of News" aggregator, and an overarching tool for creating content that can be picked apart and included on other platforms.

  • Dave's philosophy is that some time soon, users are going to realize that they need a place to build and control their content before they post it to any service or platform that's controlled by an outside company.

  • The gang discusses the nature of comments on blogs (and on Stack Exchange questions and answers), and how to manage them - or whether to allow them at all. It leads to a discussion of creating new pages on Wikipedia, and its requirements for citations and notoriety.

  • Dave suggests putting together a Best Practices manual on managing your content on the web. He suggests that having as few domain names as possible will help people not lose their content (or break all their links). Jeff suggests that Facebook can be that sort of "repository" for many people, but Dave disagrees. (n.b.: He recently deleted his Facebook account.) Companies don't necessarily last forever - we're looking at you, Geocities. (Talk of Facebook inevitably pushes the discussion into the realm of what information websites record, and how, and why - generally as related to advertising.)

  • Services like FedEx and UPS can get you your new Kindle Fire on release day because they've cut every possible corner - except for the 1% of people who are not a simple case because they've moved, or they need their package on time. That 1% outlier idea can't be applied to freedom (intellectual, personal, what have you), Dave says.

  • Dave wants to buy a bland, uninvolved service that does nothing but provide the service it says it provides. Amazon was doing a great job of that until they kicked WikiLeaks off their storage. Dave is overlooking that incident for now because there is nowhere else to go that provides the whole package (uptime, reliability, etc).

  • Dave wrote a blog post involving the quote: "If you're not paying for something, you have no reason to expect it to be there tomorrow." But does that mean that because you are paying for something, youcan expect it to be there tomorrow? The gang explores this philosophy.

  • Suddenly we're talking about how Dave believes there is no real hard line between government and business... an issue which cannot necessarily be solved in a 60-minute podcast.

  • Twitter solves the subscription process that RSS has. With RSS, you have to go through a bunch of steps to get yourself subscribed. With Twitter, you just have to click one "follow" button, and you're set.

  • Joel is considering writing fiction! He likes the medium because you don't have to tell the truth. You tell the deeper truth by manipulating the superficial facts.

  • The coalition of the users doing stuff together independent of Facebook or Google or what have you is valuable and should be encouraged and protected. It's a conversation that Jeff and Dave will continue offline.

  • You can find Dave at Scripting News, and you should also check out EC2 for Poets.