Thanking Dave Winer

Typically, I try to avoid the blogosphere on April Fools Day — On this day, I always believe even less of what I read than usual.

But today, this is a straight-up sincere post of appreciation regarding my friend, Dave Winer. No fooling. Today is the tenth anniversary of Scripting News, Dave’s blog. (If you’re reading this on April 1, he’s going old skol with a display of that first day’s posts. He’s “blogging” today using Twitter. Later: He’s now back with a reflection post.)

For several of the early years of my blog, before I even knew Dave’s name, I was the beneficiary of his generosity. The first day I learned that Doc Searls set up a blog at the URL “doc.weblogs.com,” I checked to see if “rex.weblogs.com” was available, and, well, it was. (I registered the domain rexblog.com soon afterwards and started using it later.) I made a couple of posts in August of 2000 but it would be another year and a half before I started making posts again. That was about 6,500 posts ago. I’ve not missed many days of blogging since then.

Dave pioneered many of the conventions of what we today know as blogging. He doesn’t claim to have the first website updated on a daily basis. However, many of the ideas related to lite-weight content management systems we all use for managing blogs today were exhibited and evangelized from the earliest days of Scripting News. Dave can recount the history of those early days. All I know is that what I do today on this blog can point straight back to that early work of Dave Winer.

For the few folks who may read this who don’t know it, other things he helped to create, pioneer, popularize, evangelize, defend and champion are the things we today call RSS and podcasting.

If it weren’t for blogging, I’m sure I would have never met Dave. Because of blogging, I know we met first on June 10, 2003 (he would remember the gathering, but not meeting me), then on April 17, 2004 at his Bloggercon II (again, I was one of many), then on May 7, 2005, a day that I remember for this memorable quote by an iconic Nashvillian, John Jay Hooker: “You can’t call a sonofabitch a sonofabitch without calling him a sonofabitch.” (I’ll skip the details.)

I could go on.

Dave is a seminal figure in the development of the technology, conventions, style and ethos of blogging. As such, he deserves much of the credit for what blogging — and the wider array of blog-like conversational media — has become. Industries are being built on the foundation he laid.

Like many pioneers, Dave has often pushed forward when others didn’t want to follow. Or he stepped on turf others wanted to defend. Or, well, there are lots of metaphors I could use, but that’s not the point of this post. Simply put, Dave has played a part in many tech debates and battles that I know nothing about, but that by the time I got to know him had left some war wounds on all involved.

This isn’t a post trying to explain Dave. This is a post simply to say I appreciate all he’s done that allows me to do what I do on this blog. And the blogs I follow via RSS. And the podcasts I subscribe to via iTunes. And, well, the list could go on and on.

Dave and I perhaps are not likely friends, on the surface some of our politics and points-of-view may appear at odds.

However, those things we share are far stronger than our differences. We share a fascination and curiousity of the dynamics of hyperlinked conversation. We care greatly about what people say, but we care even more that they have the tools — and rights — to say them. We also share a common belief that playing with something new — having fun — is the best way to discover what “works.”

Recently, when I was in San Francisco, I spent an afternoon just hanging out with Dave. We had a wonderful lunch in Berkeley near his house. We went to Fry’s and shopped for some speakers — some really killer speakers — for Dave’s sound system. He let me play tourist and stopped the car whenever I wanted to take photos of the impressive views of the San Francisco Bay we passed. At his home, we were like adolescents discussing his TV, Mac mini, network setup and some cool hacks for managing video. We talked about earthquakes and health and music and a little about politics.

But mainly, we just joked around. And bantered. And kicked ideas around.

It’s a great way to work.

For Dave, it’s a great way to change the world.

Thanks, Dave.

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