Dave Winer: The Father of RSS, Podcasting and Weblogs

Dave Winer

May 2, 1955:
Brooklyn, New York:
Mr. Leon Winer, Phd, and professor at Columbia University and his wife, Mrs. Eve Winer, whom also held a Phd and a school psychologist gives birth to an exceptionally brilliant little boy they name Dave.
Though Dave would grow up just as any young child within the concrete jungle that is New York, and blend in with all the others his age, going to high school and roaming in and around the streets of the Brooklyn, Dave Winer was growing into anything but an atypical boy from ‘Tha Bronx.
Indeed, Mr. & Mrs. Winer were parenting themselves a very special young man. However, no one realized at the time that Dave Winer would one day become the parent of an internet technology that would change the way the most brilliant and powerful companies in the entire World Wide Web would conduct their day to day business activities.

Dave Winer:
Dave graduated in 1972 from the Bronx High School of Science. From there, he headed to the extreme southern part of the U.S., all the way to New Orleans where he attended the University of Tulane and in 1976, he received a BA in Math before heading back up toward the northern states and getting an MS from Wisconsin-Madison in computer science in 1978.
After getting all the education he could from books and universities, it was time Dave Winer began educating himself in the world of computer technologies. Yet before he would be finished, it would be the world of computer technologies that would be getting an education from Dave Winer.
1979, just under a year after receiving his Masters in computer science, Winer went to work for a company called “Personal Software”, and almost immediately began working on what had become a “pet project” in which Winer was attempting to create a commercially available outline processing display program that he called “Visitext”.
From Visitext, Winer chose to throw everything into outliners. In 1981, he parts ways with Personal Software, yet continued to tweak on his pet-project of a commercial outline display. He created “Living Videotext”, got an office in Mountain View, California, and at one time, had around 50 computer savvy individuals working alongside him at Living Videotext.
Having never gave up on his Visitext, Winer had developed enough of the outline technology that in 1983, Apple II released a Visitext offspring from Winer called “Think Tank” and promoted it as an “idea processor”. One year later, IBM picked up their version of Dave’s “Think Tank” for their PC, and by the end of 84’, Macintosh had joined in the “Think Tank” as well.
The turning point came in 1987 when Winer sold his “Living Videotext” to a company called Symantec. In turn, Symantec transferred quite a bit of stocks to Winer, though an actual amount was never released to the public, it was said that Dave Winer made the equivalent of a small fortune from the deal.
Although Dave stayed on at the Living Videotext division of Symantec for around 6 months or so, his need to continue to challenge himself led him to leave the company, along with his first creation, and set off in pursuit of yet another idea.

In 1988, Winer began another company he named Userland. Straight off the hop, Dave created and launched a program called ‘Frontier”. Frontier became a scripting environment for MAC and due to his already incredible passion for outliners, it too was basically an outlining script language.
While working with the scripting and automating of the production side of San Francisco’s News Paper, Striker, Winer started fiddling around into the publication side of the world of outlines and a connection between the two.
By the time Winer had finished his fiddling, he had created, improved upon and revolutionized an entire new way to utilize the internet in the publication of material. That being said, Dave Winer could peer into the future and see an entirely different method of publication on the horizon.
Winer immediately turned the entire company toward researching, developing and promoting the concept of publishing products, while at the same time working on his new pet-project, a syndicating method of publication of what Winer called a Weblog, “Scripting News”.
The Beginning Of A Mass Media Icon:
The whole idea of online publication opened “Pandora’s Box” within Winer’s sophisticated, yet brilliant mind. He had developed an itch that was never going to be scratched until he had solved the publication online dilemma; a dilemma that he, himself had a big part in creating.
At the time, in 1997, there were several companies working on, developing and launching all types of formats that mimicked Winer’s Scripting News, Syndicating weblog publication format.
Unfortunately for Dave and Userland, some fellow computer scientist over at Netscape were launching a similar syndication format called RDF.
Because, Netscape had all the name recognition and respect within the internet technologies throughout the web, RDF seemed to be the thing the market was searching for. Yet the weblog era created by Winer was a genie that simply was not going back into the bottle. RDF was only as successful as weblogs and news outlets like Winer’s Frontier system was leading into the future, it was clear that RDF couldn’t keep up with the technology Dave Winer was throwing out on the market that kept repeatedly testing Netscape’s RDF limits.
So while all the competition was either folding or trying to revamp their formats, Winer had already switched gears and was in the process of creating an entirely new format language of his own that was about to level all the competition, along with their future endeavors as well.

XML to RSS, and No End in Sight:

With the development of Winer’s new formatting language he called XML, the competition was hard pressed to keep up. Because Dave had spent so much time earlier developing systems such as Frontier that was already deep in syndicating publications, along with the weblogs that were becoming a trend setting way to get content from one place, and putting it in a format where it could be viewed by many, when XML became implemented into the mix, even RDF creators could see they needed it if they were going to move forward.
With the ability to use Winer’s format of feeds, the aggregators needed to pull the information from weblogs and media outlets such as the New York Times, who had signed a deal to use Dave’s version of RSS feeds for the publication of their online news, Netscape, and whoever else thought they could hang on, were essentially ground into dust.
So it was that Netscape gave Dave all his ideas back and included the rights to everything to do with RSS versions. Dave Winer was now the Father of RSS and Weblogs.
So in 1999, RDF took Dave’s XML format and became RSS. Dave was already utilizing the use of network feeds to carry Scriptingnews updates through the internet. Clearly Winer was on top of the RSS, Weblog game and was yet finished.
There was only one element missing from the world of syndicating publications. Dave Winer, once again could see the future, and the future would need a file format for syndicating Video/Audio publications. With that, Winer went to work and never looked back till he had found a solution.
By including the word “Enclosure” into the tags for the aggregators to pull from the blogs and media outlets, they could begin pulling out video and audio files and feeding them into RSS feeds for subscribers. BOOM! Podcasting was born!
Now, Dave Winer had really obliterated any limits believed to exist by all others before him. Dave Winer-Father of RSS-Podcasting and Weblogs. Where would the world of mass media be without the ideas of Dave? Who knows? However, because of him, and him alone, the internet has developed an entire new method of creating content and allowing it be published once, yet viewed by millions.