Dave Winer Admits He Didn’t Create RSS

Catch it before he edits it out. Dave Winer admitted today in a blog post that he didn’t invent RSS:

… we pulled a fast one on Netscape in 1999 by throwing in the towel on our syndication format and using theirs instead.

For years, Winer has puffed himself up with the claim that he’s the coinventor of RSS, and a lot of bloggers and journalists bought it. His claim is based on the false premise that because Netscape incorporated some of his suggestions in RSS, he invented it with them. By the same logic, the guy who introduced the BLINK tag invented HTML. You can’t invent something that existed before you got involved in it. You can popularize it, as he did, but it’s bullshit to call yourself its coinventor.

Dave Winer did not invent RSS. The format was created in 1999 by Ramanathan V. Guha and Dan Libby at Netscape. Winer invented ScriptingNews format, an early stab at syndication that died when he switched to RSS.

Michael Arrington vs. Dave Winer

Michael Arrington appears to have seen the light about Dave Winer, from the looks of this comment he made on TechCrunch:

Dave: just stop. you’ll do and say anything to get what you want. even lie. even delete previous messages and reverse your opinion.




you have no integrity. you have no core ethics. it’s just all about you all the time.

This latest blowup began when Winer questioned Arrington’s integrity because TechCrunch is one of the suggested users recommended on Twitter. Winer sent a direct message to TechCrunch writer MG Siegler telling him to “stop fucking with RSS” because of an article arguing that RSS is dead. (Note that the article was by Steve Gillmor, not Siegler — Winer is a fucking genius.)

As you can see, Arrington is using Eye on Winer as a resource to document Winer’s hypocrisy. We compliment him on his good taste. They were best bros going back to the early days of TechCrunch — Arrington once served as his lawyer — but Arrington seems to have figured out why so many people in tech will never work with Winer.

If you know anyone else who hasn’t learned this lesson, send them to us.

Dave Winer’s Obsession with Twitter Continues

Nice example of projection from Dave Winer on Twitter:

Twitter is a big deal now. Calacanis used to be #1, now he’s a nobody. For a guy like him the difference is huge. And the resentment real.

About 21 hours ago from web

Winer keeps going on and on and on about Twitter’s suggested users list, which gave some celebs and tech A-listers many hundreds of thousands of followers compared to his 20,000. But as he bitches and moans about how follower counts like his used to make you a big deal, he completely ignores the fact that most of the people who read him on Twitter have followers in the hundreds or lower. He was perfectly happy with the inequalities of the system while he was on top. Now he’s Che Fucking Guevara.

Show of hands: Does anyone else other than Winer give a shit about the suggested users list or Twitter follow counts? Thanks to Twitter, we have learned that a 50-something obscure software developer wakes up every single day and gets his Depends in a bunch because Ashton Kutcher and Oprah and P. Diddy have more followers than he does. It’s a sad but hilarious spectacle to watch him go ape over any system that quantifies popularity and puts him at the top — as long as he stays there — and go all jilted lover when he falls off it.

Earth to Dave: You are not famous. You are Internet famous, which only means anything when something is new. When the rest of the world shows up, as they have on Twitter, the genuinely famous show up and that’s the end of your celebrity. On Twitter now your Internet fame is worthless. Ashton Kutcher craps out bigger celebrities than you each morning.

Journalist: Winer Knows Nothing About Media Business

Here’s something you don’t see often: A technology journalist at a major publication who acknowledges that Dave Winer doesn’t know what the hell he’s talking about. Jason Pontin, the editor and publisher of Technology Review, writes this in How to Save Media:

The Gotterdammerung-of-mainstream-media argument has a weak and a strong formulation. …

The strong version is most associated with Dave Winer, a grumpy California software programmer best known for helping to develop the Web-feed format RSS and for his blog, Scripting News. Winer has written, and not without glee, “Fifteen years ago I was unhappy with the way journalism was practiced in the tech industry, so I took matters into my own hands. And then dozens of people did, and then hundreds followed, and now we get much better information about tech. It will happen everywhere, in politics, education, the military, health, science, you name it. The sources will fill in where we used to need journalists. … Everyone is now a journalist.”

If media companies can’t earn money, and everyone is a journalist, it follows that “amateurs” (Shirky) and “sources” (Winer) will be part of a “decentralized” media (Winer), whose stories will be distributed by “excitable 14-year-olds” (Shirky).

This is all folly and ignorance. Shirky, Winer, and other evangelists know nothing about the business of media. True, the journalists who write about these matters for mainstream media often know as little; I didn’t understand much until I became the publisher of Technology Review as well as its editor in chief. But Shirky and Winer are disgruntled consumers and, as bloggers, advocates for an insurrection. Thus, they are to be read skeptically. Their prescriptions would be more convincing if they were less polemical and better informed by some knowledge of what publishers sell.

Winer’s been treated like an informed media expert for years, but his entire professional experience in journalism consists of writing commentary for Wired for one year back in the ’90s.

Pontin goes on to say on Twitter, when criticized over the piece, that “These people are, I think, insane. Filled with hostility, completely impractical, and, in the final analysis, dishonest.” Winer doesn’t know journalism, but at least one journalist knows him pretty well.

Dave Finally Comments on Radio Payola

To be honest, Dave’s Apology to Radio Users it was more than I expected, but it was framed in a very misleading and dishonest way. He did his spinning over at FriendFeed:

One more thing — it’s pretty obvious Arrington attacked me as a response to a piece I wrote the day
before about Twitter giving flow to various friends, like TechCrunch. I went out of my way to say TC
didn’t do anything wrong. Didn’t want to make it personal, cause it wasn’t. And then Mike comes back
with this. I don’t think it’s a coincidence.

Problem is, Arrington’s piece makes explicitly clear why Dave was being singled out, and it wasn’t because he called out TC. It was, in essence, the same reason that we called him out a few weeks ago.

What’s great is watching Dave try to explain that Curry’s feed was appropriate and should’ve been included anyway. He calls the $10,000 payment a “gratuity”. One of two things is true: he thought Curry’s feed belonged there but let a friend pay him $10k for it anyway or he had no intention of including Curry until he got the payola. He can’t have it both ways. He’s either a jerk of unimaginable proportions or he’s lying through his teeth. Not that those two things are mutually exclusive.

Dave’s “apology” is also incredibly weak on its face. After spending weeks bitching and moaning about not being included on Twitter’s suggested users list (what, does anyone actually believe this is about some deeper issue?) and making all sorts of insinuations about Twitter and the folks who got suggested user list spots he glosses over a much more egregious and ethically bankrupt action of his own with “I apologize for that.”

I’m not sure that Arrington’s comment about Winer’s lack of credibility is quite accurate though, as it seems to imply that this is a new phenomenon. Dave hasn’t had any for quite some time — it’s a side-effect of having no integrity, actually, something I imagine is just a product of his up-bringing.

Dave Gets Truthy on the AP

Via an email earlier this week:

In his most recent post
Winer makes the following claim:

Financially, things are looking terrible at AP — as at other news organizations. There’s a
general downward trend in the economics of news, and that’s amplified by the downturn in
the economy. If we could see AP’s balance sheet, we might conceive of something desperate

In the comments, an astute reader notes:

You can read the AP’s balance sheet, Dave, and it’s not at all in bad shape as you claim.


In fact, revenues were up and the AP is in the black, despite it being a non-profit and only needing to break
even. AP makes money selling content, not something many people can claim.

Dave’s response seems worth an EoW blog post, IMHO.

So what was Dave’s response?

Then there must be something else they saw that made them freak.

The strong reaction was observable. The reason for it, not so clear.

Which is basically his way of saying “I’m still right, even if my facts are wrong.”

Thanks for the email!

Dave Winer Abuses Another API

Dave Winer has a new link page that counts clicks on the 40 most recent links he’s posted on Twitter using the Tr.im URL shortener. He said on his blog that it’s updated 12 times an hour. Checking the statistics for 40 links 12 times an hour is 480 API requests, which is significantly more than the Tr.im API permits:

The tr.im API method trim_url and trim_simple together have a set rate limit of 48 new URLs per day, up to 10 per hour, per IP address. This is intentionally set on the low side to prevent any overwhelming malicious insertion of data into our database. trim_destination has the highest rate limit set to the same number of URLs we create per day, so that you can more efficiently determine the destinaion URL for all or any tr.im URLs.

For all other methods other than these two, there is a limit of 1,500 requests per day, up to 120 per hour, per IP address.

When you hammer an API like this you degrade services for everyone else. This fact seems to be lost on Winer, even though Comcast shut his home Internet connection down for his laughably excessive bandwidth use and he’s blogged about how Twitter’s performance is being harmed by API abusers.

How Dave Loses Arguments

It happens all the time. Dave writes something, someone thinks about it and decides he’s missing something, they comment, and Dave takes issue with them not patting him on the back to tell him how smart he is, and a lively debate ensues. The most entertaining feature of these debates is that he’s terrible at it because he refuses to accept that maybe he missed something.

This thread, which was pointed out by a commenter on the last post is as perfect an example as there is.

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Dave Winer Thinks Judges Should Cover Trials

Dave Winer at a UC-Berkeley event on newspaper journalism:

I said the sources would take over the news. Not enough reporters covering the courtroom? The judge will report, as will the jurors, the attorneys, the plaintiff, the defendent. It will be messier, I would have said had I had the time to complete the thought, but more truth will come out.

New York Times, same day:

Last week, a building products company asked an Arkansas court to overturn a $12.6 million judgment, claiming that a juror used Twitter to send updates during the civil trial.

And on Monday, defense lawyers in the federal corruption trial of a former Pennsylvania state senator, Vincent J. Fumo, demanded before the verdict that the judge declare a mistrial because a juror posted updates on the case on Twitter and Facebook. The juror had even told his readers that a “big announcement” was coming on Monday.

Winer waited all that time to get a chance to speak, and yet he couldn’t come up with a worse example if he tried. Judges and attorneys are legally prohibited from writing accounts of an ongoing trial on their blogs or Twitter. They would risk mistrials and professional sanction. Jurors risk mistrials as well by covering themselves. Even after the fact, participants in a trial have to be careful about what they say because it could become grounds for appeal. There are many other examples where professional rules, confidentiality requirements or non-disclosure agreements would prevent citizens from reporting their own news. There’s no way in hell the public will get court news from the participants. And that’s Winer’s example of why we don’t need newspapers? The journalists in the crowd must have loved his naivete.

Dave on Twitter’s Suggested Users List

Examples of Dave’s double standards (one for him, one for everyone else) are easy to come by. Few are as stark as his recent crusade against the hegemony of twitter follow suggestions. Rogers Cadenhead fills us in on an interesting back story, for those who didn’t already know it: Dave sold default subscriptions in Radio.

I wasn’t on that list. I poured a lot of effort into Radio, and while I wasn’t in the top tier of bloggers
I was solidly second-tier. Former MTV veejay Adam Curry was on the list, and in July 2003 he revealed
why — he secretly paid Winer $10,000:

Time to come clean on an investment I made a year and a half ago. At the time, UserLand software
had released a Mac OSX version of Radio and I was totally digging the built in news aggregator. I came
up with a cunning plan: I asked Userland if I could purchase a pre-installed feed on their aggregator,
which supports RSS xml feeds. I paid $10,000 for a one year license. To date I’ve been delighted with
my purchase and although I haven’t checked recently, I’m pretty sure Userland still has me in the
defaults. …

The $10k didn’t ‘just’ give me an automatic base within the userland community, it got pasted on web
pages all over the world and I’ve built up an audience that consists of 50% aggergator users.

So when Winer was in the same position as Twitter, his software included a paid placement, something
he never disclosed to his users.

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