Ahead of his time

People have called Dave Winer by many names, names I can't repeat before the kids are safe in bed for the night.

Dave's an edgy guy. He's out there. Often he's a lightening rod. He can be obnoxious. To the chagrin of some of his critics, Dave is also brilliant.

Five years ago, Dave threw his energy, and there's a lot of it, behind an obscure protocol, XML, writing...

...XML, the emerging standard for information exchange and remote procedure calling over the Internet.

First, here's why we think XML is exciting.

  • The most important thing about XML is that it will give users choices. If Microsoft, for example, were to store all their Office files in an open and documented XML format then you could use any other XML-compatible tool, such as Frontier, to work on the files. This creates opportunities for new kinds of workflow, building on the tools that writers and designers prefer.

  • The web of HTML documents is good for what it is, simple display markup with links. But there are a lot of different, non-HTML user interfaces, such as spreadsheets and presentation programs, that are well understood and none of them are particularly relevant to HTML.

  • XML is a fresh start, taking the best ideas of the web (open file formats, cross-platform, low-techness) and bringing it to a broader range of software.

  • If XML achieves its promise, it should clean up text-based exchange formats, comma-delimited, tab-indented, etc.

  • And it presents an opportunity to flatten incompatibilies between wire protocols, Apple Events, COM, CORBA, etc.

  • But the key to all these things is compatibility, that's the big payoff for users.

Interoperability. As Dave would say, Coooooooooooool!

Posted by Jay Cross at March 2, 2004 11:27 PM | TrackBack

Where did Winer say this stuff? Do you have a link?

Posted by: Nick Douglas at March 3, 2004 12:13 PM

Winer started work in RSS as early as 1997, maybe earlier. I first ran across him in 1995.

In RSS, Winer's work should be placed alongside that of Aaron Schwartz, Bill Kearney, Mark Pilgrim, Evan Williams, among many others.

RSS has been since the beginning a group effort, the work of many people. Much of the controversy stems from the fact that Winer doesn't see it that way.

But I was there. I know.

Posted by: Stephen Downes at March 3, 2004 02:10 PM

Link to Winer's 1998 posting

Stephen is right that RSS was a group effort. (I was not there, but I've heard it many a time.) Dave threw the whole weight of his ocmpany (granted, that's mainly Dave) behind RSS. Did the others bring corporate support to RSS development?

Posted by: Jay Cross at March 3, 2004 07:12 PM

Groovy. Thanks for the links.

I like Winer. I bump into his ideas online every now and then.

By the way, nice RSS feed.

Posted by: Nick Douglas at March 3, 2004 10:16 PM

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