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Dave Winer

Dave Winer circa 2007
Born May 2, 1955 (1955-05-02) (age 54)
Brooklyn, New York City, USA
Residence USA
Known for Outliners, Blogging, RSS, Podcasting

Dave Winer (born May 2, 1955 in Brooklyn, New York City, USA) is an American software developer, entrepreneur and writer in Berkeley, California. A pioneer in the areas of outliners, content management, XML-RPC, RSS,[1] OPML, and the MetaWeblog API, he is also noted for his contribution to podcasting.[2] Winer is the author of Scripting News, one of the oldest weblogs, established in 1997.[3] [4] He is also the founder of the software companies Living Videotext and Userland Software, a former contributing editor for the Web site HotWired, and former research fellow at Harvard Law School.


Family background and Education

Winer was born on May 2, 1955, in Brooklyn, New York City, the son of Eve Winer, Ph.D., a school psychologist, and Leon Winer, Ph.D., a former professor of the Columbia University Graduate School of Business who died Oct. 3, 2009. Winer is also the grandnephew of German novelist Arno Schmidt and a relative of Hedy Lamarr.[5] He graduated from the Bronx High School of Science in 1972.[6] Winer received a BA in Mathematics from Tulane University in New Orleans in 1976. In 1978 he received an MS in Computer Science from the University of Wisconsin–Madison.


Early work in outliners

In 1979 Dave Winer became an employee of Personal Software, where he worked on his own product idea named VisiText, which was his first attempt to build a commercial product around an "expand and collapse" outline display[7] and which ultimately established outliners as a software product. In 1981 he left and founded Living Videotext to develop this still-unfinished product. The company was based in Mountain View, CA, and grew to a head count of over 50.[7]

ThinkTank, based on VisiText, was released in 1983 for Apple II and promoted as an "idea processor,"[8] became the "first popular outline processor, the one that made the term generic."[9] A ThinkTank release for the IBM PC followed in 1984.

Ready, a RAM resident outliner for the IBM PC released in 1985, was commercially successful but soon succumbed to a competing product by Borland.[10]

More, one of the very first applications released for Apple's Macintosh in 1986, combined an outliner and a presentation program. It became "uncontested in the marketplace"[11 ] and won the MacUser's Editor's Choice Award for "Best Product" in 1986.[12]

In 1987, at the height of his company's success, Winer sold Living Videotext to Symantec[13] for an undisclosed but substantial transfer of stock.[14] Winer continued to work at Symantec's Living Videotext division, but after six months he left the company in pursuit of other challenges.[7]

Years at UserLand

Winer founded Userland Software in 1988[11 ] and served as the company's CEO until 2002.

After an unsuccessful attempt to establish UserLand's flagship product as a system-level scripting standard for the Mac in the early nineties, Winer shifted the company's focus to online publishing products in 1996. He then enthusiastically promoted and experimented with these products while building his websites and developing new features. During this period, Winer also collaborated with Microsoft and jointly developed the XML-RPC protocol. This led to the creation of SOAP, which he co-authored with Microsoft's Don Box, Bob Atkinson, and Mohsen Al-Ghosein.

In December 1997, Winer designed and implemented an XML syndication format for use on his Scripting News weblog,[15] thus making an early contribution to the history of web syndication technology. By December 2000, competing dialects of RSS included several varieties of Netscape's RSS, Winer's RSS 0.92, and an RDF-based RSS 1.0. Winer continued to develop the branch of the RSS fork originating from RSS 0.92, releasing in 2002 a version called RSS 2.0.[16] Winer's advocacy of web syndication in general and RSS 2.0 in particular convinced many news organizations to syndicate their news content in that format.[17] For example, in early 2002 the New York Times entered an agreement with UserLand to syndicate many of their articles in RSS 2.0 format.[18]

In 2000 Winer developed the Outline Processor Markup Language OPML, an XML format for outlines, which originally served as the native file format for Radio UserLand's outliner application and has since been adopted for other uses, the most common being to exchange lists of web feeds between web feed aggregators.

UserLand was the first to add an "enclosure" tag in its RSS, modifying its blog software and its aggregator so that bloggers could easily link to an audio file (see podcasting and history of podcasting).

In February 2002 Winer was named one of the "Top Ten Technology Innovators" by InfoWorld.[19]

In June 2002 Winer had coronary artery bypass surgery to prevent a heart attack and as a consequence stepped down as CEO of UserLand shortly after.[20] He remained the firm's majority shareholder, however, and claimed personal ownership of


Hailed as "one of the most prolific content generators in Web history,"[21] Winer has also enjoyed a long career as a writer and commentator. He started DaveNet, "a stream-of-consciousness newsletter distributed by e-mail" [22] in November 1994 and maintained Web archives of the 800-word essays since February 1994. From the start, DaveNet was widely read among industry leaders and analysts,[23] and redacted DaveNet pieces were carried by HotWired on a weekly basis between June 1995 and May 1996.[21] Winer's weblog Scripting News, started in 1997, ran side by side with DaveNet for many years. DaveNet ceased publication in 2004.

Berkman Fellow at Harvard

Winer spent one year as a resident fellow at the Harvard Law School's Berkman Center for Internet & Society where he worked on using weblogs in education.[3] While there, he launched the Harvard Weblogs community using UserLand software, and held the first BloggerCon conferences. Winer's fellowship ended in June 2004.

Projects and activities

24 Hours of Democracy

In February 1996, while working as a columnist for HotWired, Winer organized 24 Hours of Democracy, an online protest against the recently passed Communications Decency Act. As part of the protest, over 1,000 people, among them Microsoft chairman Bill Gates, posted essays to the Web on the subject of democracy, civil liberty and freedom of speech.[24][25]

Edit This Page

Starting in December 1999, Winer offered a free blog hosting service at,[26] and claimed to be hosting "approximately 20,000 sites"[27] in February 2001. The service closed in December 2005.[28]


Having received user requests for audioblogging features since October 2000, especially from Adam Curry,[29] Winer decided to include new functionality in RSS 0.92[30] by defining a new element[31] called "enclosure,"[32] which would pass the address of a media file to the RSS aggregator. He demonstrated the RSS enclosure feature on January 11, 2001 by enclosing a Grateful Dead song in his Scripting News weblog.[33]

Winer's weblogging product, Radio Userland, the program favored by Curry, had a built-in aggregator and thus provided both the "send" and "receive" components of what was then called audioblogging.[34][35]

In July 2003 Winer challenged other aggregator developers to provide support for enclosures.[36] In October 2003, Kevin Marks demonstrated a script to download RSS enclosures and pass them to iTunes for transfer to an iPod.[37] Curry then offered an RSS-to-iPod script[38] that moved mp3 files from Radio UserLand to iTunes. The term "podcasting" was suggested by Ben Hammersley in February 2004.[39]

Winer also has an occasional podcast, Morning Coffee Notes,[40] which has featured guests such as Doc Searls, Mike Kowalchik, Jason Calacanis, Steve Gillmor, Peter Rojas, Cecile Andrews, Adam Curry, Betsy Devine and others.[6]


BloggerCon is a user-focused conference for the blogger community. BloggerCon I (October 2003) and II (April 2004), were organized by Dave Winer and friends at Harvard Law School's Berkman Center for the Internet and Society in Cambridge, Mass. provided a free ping-server used by many blogging applications, as well as free hosting to many bloggers. After leaving Userland, Winer claimed personal ownership of the site, and in mid-June 2004 he shut down its free blog-hosting service without any notice, citing lack of resources and personal problems. A swift and orderly migration off Winer's server was made possible mainly thanks to help from Rogers Cadenhead.[41]

In October, 2005, VeriSign bought the ping-server from Winer and promised that its free services would remain free. The podcasting-related web site was also included in the $2.3 million deal.[42]

Share your OPML

Winer opened his self-described "commons for sharing outlines, feeds, and taxonomy" in May 2006.[43] The site allowed users to publish and syndicate blogrolls and aggregator subscriptions using OPML. Winer suspended its service in January 2008.[44]

See also


  1. ^ Tim O'Reilly (2005-09-30). "Blogging and the Wisdom of Crowds". O'Reilly and Associates. Retrieved 2007-01-29.  
  2. ^ "Podcasting: The latest buzz". October 27, 2004. Retrieved 2007-01-25.  
  3. ^ a b Paul Festa (2003-02-25). "Newsmaker: Blogging comes to Harvard as". CNET. Retrieved 2007-01-25.  
  4. ^ "..Dave Winer... whose Scripting News ( is one of the oldest blogs." David F. Gallagher (2002-06-10). "TECHNOLOGY; A rift among bloggers". New York Times.  
  5. ^ Winer, Dave (1994-12-27). "Spindler Speaks!". DaveNet. Retrieved 2009-06-10.  
  6. ^ a b Dave Winer's Personal Website: Curriculum Vitae
  7. ^ a b c Swaine, Michael (1991-09-01). "Calling Apple's Bluff". Dr. Dobb's. Retrieved 2009-06-08.  
  8. ^ Sandberg-Diment, Erik (1983-05-17). "'First idea processor'". New York Times. Retrieved 2009-05-10.  
  9. ^ Sandberg-Diment, Erik (1986-04-01). "New Software for making note scribbling easier". New York Times. Retrieved 2009-06-04.  
  10. ^ Winer, Dave (1995-04-12). "Get up, and do it again". DaveNet. Retrieved 2009-06-08.  
  11. ^ a b Winer, Dave (1988). "Outliners & Programming". Userland. Retrieved 2008-08-15.  
  12. ^ "Eddy Awards 1986". MacUser. 1986. Retrieved 2009-05-19.  
  13. ^ Dyson, Esther (1987-07-09). "Critical Mass". Release 1.0. Retrieved 2009-06-08.  
  14. ^ "Software Units Plan to Merge". New York Times. 1987-07-09. Retrieved 2009-06-04.  
  15. ^ Winer, Dave (1997-12-15). "Scripting News in XML". Scripting News. Retrieved 2006-10-31.  
  16. ^ RSS 2.0 specification
  17. ^ "Old data update tool gains new converts". CNET News. March 20, 2003. Retrieved 2007-01-26.  
  18. ^ " Expands Its RSS Feeds to 27 Categories". New York Times (press release). July 20, 2004. Retrieved 2007-01-26.  
  19. ^ Udell, Jon (2002-02-27). "Top ten technology innovators: Dave Winer". Infoworld. Retrieved 2009-05-13.  
  20. ^ Winer, Dave (2007-03-12). "An untold story of UserLand". Scripting News. Retrieved 2008-08-08.  
  21. ^ a b Cone, Edward (2001-05). "Almost Famous". Wired 9 (5). Retrieved 2009-05-13.  
  22. ^ Markoff, John (2001-04-09). "An Internet Critic Who Is Not Shy About Ruffling the Big Names in High Technology". New York Times. Retrieved 2009-05-09.  
  23. ^ Michalski, Jerry (1995-06-23). "What's a zine?". Release 1.0 13 (6): pp. 1 – 24.  
  24. ^ ""24 Hours In Democracy" Protests Telecom Act". Newsbytes. 1996-02-22.  
  25. ^ "Next Step on the Net". The Washington Post: pp. A18. 1996-02-26.  
  26. ^ Winer, Dave (1999-12-08). "EditThisPage.Com". DaveNet. Retrieved 2009-06-10.  
  27. ^ Winer, Dave (2001-02-13). "How to Make Money on the Internet v2.0". DaveNet. Retrieved 2009-06-10.  
  28. ^ Kitchens, Susan A. (2005-11-28). "Bye bye, (free) Editthispage!". 20/20 Hindsight. Retrieved 2009-06-10.  
  29. ^ Winer, Dave (2000-10-31). "Virtual Bandwidth". DaveNet. Retrieved 2009-06-12.  
  30. ^ Winer, Dave, 2000-12-25 RSS 0.92 Specification
  31. ^ Winer, Dave, 2000-12-27 Scripting News: Heads-up, I'm working on new features for RSS that build on 0.91. Calling it 0.92...
  32. ^ Winer, Dave (2001-01-11). "Payloads for RSS". The Two-Way Web. Retrieved 2009-06-12.  
  33. ^ Winer, Dave, 2001-01-11 Scripting News: Tonight's song on the Grateful Dead audio weblog is Truckin...
  34. ^ Curry, Adam, 2002-10-21 UserNum 1014: Cool to hear my own audio-blog...
  35. ^ Gilchrist, Harold 2002-10-27 Audioblog/Mobileblogging News this morning I'm experimenting with producing an audioblogging show...
  36. ^ Winer, Dave (2003-07-18). "How to support enclosures in aggregators". RSS 2.0 at Harvard Law. Retrieved 2009-06-12.  
  37. ^ Marks, Kevin (2003-10-04). "Bloggercon live video". Epeus' epigone. Retrieved 2009-06-12.  
  38. ^ Curry, Adam (2003-10-12). "RSS2iPod". Adam Curry's Weblog. Retrieved 2009-06-12.  
  39. ^ Hammersley, Ben (2004-02-12). "Audible revolution". The Guardian. Retrieved 2009-06-12.  
  40. ^ Winer, Dave. "An occasional podcast". Morning Coffee Notes. Retrieved 2009-06-12.  
  41. ^ Kramer, Staci D (2004-06-23). " Rises From the Flames". Wired. Retrieved 2008-08-08.  
  42. ^ Naraine, Ryan (2005-10-06). "VeriSign Acquires Dave Winer's". Retrieved 2009-05-08.  
  43. ^ Arrington, Michael (2006-05-07). "Share Your OPML". TechCrunch. Retrieved 2009-06-08.  
  44. ^ Winer, Dave (2008-01-23). ", retired". Scripting News. Retrieved 2009-06-08.  

External links

Coverage and interviews

Of related interest

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