Dave Winer at Microsoft

Today is Dave Winer’svisit to Microsoft. I was able to get some time chatting with Dave, Scoble, Lili, Curtis, Dare, and Ned Friendabout business models for aggregation, potential integration with other tools, and so on. Some of the ideas discussed were really eye-opening. I consider myself to have thought through these issues more deeply than most people, particularly things like semantic storage and knowledge interchange. However, it was clear that there are far more interesting possibilities than I have been thinking of, especially from the larger perspective.

Now, Dave is speaking to a fairly large crowd at MSR invited speakers series. Here are my notes:

  • First, a few people in the audiencemade comments about SharePoint which were a bit wrong. To set the record straight, SharePoint can produce RSS feeds, we have real life customers who do this, and some people internally have even run blogs on SharePoint. It’s not the best RSS source, but there is absolutely nothing about SharePoint that makes it fundamentally incongruent with RSS. SharePoint is a collaboration server, and has features for hierarchy, full-text search, and chronologically-ordered posts.
  • No slides
  • Theme that blogs democratize news gathering; you can aggreagate small sources with big sources, and small sourcescantriangulate with big companies
  • Reporters personalize the story; blogs appear more honest, because bloggers admit to personal bias while journalists deny it
  • Now on to blogging impact on political campaigns. First, pointed out that blogs may have helped Dean to rise, but TV and papers very clearly decided to “end his candidacy”, and they had the power to do so. So doesn’t think blogs will get someone elected, however, thinks someone who happens to be a blogger will get elected, at least on local level very soon.
  • Thinks blogging can become a voter support system; people get more passionate about election cycles because they feel they are more involved, rather than just seeing it as a horse race; allow people to access varied perspectives. Expressed optimism that most voter “bad decisions” can be helped through better information.
  • Now on to impact of blogs on workgroups. Themes of “learning organization”, thinks workgroups naturally have information stewards, who could act as information collectors, distributors, historians.
  • Q: how is this different from department web site: A: it’s not
  • Q: How is this different from SharePoint? A: open formats
  • Q: Do you see trend toward structured blogs? A: Nothing preventing it other than tool support (to some extent categories might solve this, but question seemed to mention XML, shared schema, etc.)
  • comment: SharePoint doesn’t need RSS, it’s different. A: OK, not everything is a blog.
  • comment: Is it correct to say RSS is about chronological content?A: Yes, exactly, information accessed in three ways: chrono (blog), search (google), taxonomy (filesystem/sharepoint) — RSS is just automated web browsing
  • Q: Blogs are niche, geek — what tipping point to get widespread adoption? A: it already has widespread adoption; it’s growing. Besides, Word Processor vendors didn’t look for a “tipping point”.
  • Q: Multimedia or Voice blogs? A: Hard to say; have tried it, it might catch on. No strong opinions yet.
  • Q: How do you expect a candidate to ever be honest? A: They *should* be honest; it’s got to change, at least I hope so.
  • Q: We used to think of Internet as wide open, democratic; then big media moved in. How do you expect blogs to be any different? A: The big media should move in; they belong there too. But we have to be good, and make sure to keep access for the smaller voices. Blogging not a panacea.
  • Q: Do you see any need for group blogging? A: No; admits he’s got different opinions than some people about this though. If I can subscribe to the individuals and make my own group, why do I need to have you make the group for me?
  • Q: I have 200 feeds, but 1000 seems the upper limit — I lay awake at night scared I might miss a good feed. Seems the pattern of establishing 1:1 relationships has scale limits, and clusters or cliques form. A: Yes, the cliques just happen; that’s life. Sometimes people can bridge between cliques, Glenn Reynolds example of bridging to warbloggers clique.
  • Q: Is LiveJournal really blogging? A: Well, it’s not always “public”, but yeah, it’s blogging.
  • Q: Where do comments fit in? A: I don’t do comments, because there are too many flames. Yeah, lots of people have comment boards, but comment boards are not necessary to be called a blog. Flames are fine; it comes with the territory when you write for public consumption, but I didn’t feel like running them on my page.
  • Q: I’ve seen some crappy blogs; you said blogs are about unedited voice, but some people need editors. A: Yeah, sure. Editors have a place. Younger generation is good at writing.
  • Q: Are there better reputation models other than how often they get linked? A: John Perry Barlow never had a blog until a month or so ago. He rose quickly to the top of lists, because he is compelling. “Established” authorities like New York Times, maybe raise in authority through word of mouth. Not a software problem.
  • Q: What do you want IE to do? A: Two main things: 1) Make it easy to subscribe to a feed with a single click, regardless of users choice of aggregator. Needs browser support, cooperation of aggegator vendors.2) Also make it easier to create posts from within browser, regardless of choice of blog server.

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