December 12, 2008


About this blog:

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Many people have been involved in development of podcasting, but one man has been especially influential in shaping and popularizing the technology. Dave Winer is widely considered the father of RSS and made podcasting possible as it exists today. As the CEO and creator of several software companies and blogs, Winer certainly fits the criteria of a techno-prophet. Throughout this blog is information about Winer’s education, his contributions to RSS and podcasting, and the influence of these technologies in the media.


From High School to Harvard

Dave Winer was born on May 2, 1955 in Brooklyn, New York. Growing up in New York, Winer’s education in technology started in high school. He attended the Bronx High School of Science where he graduated in 1972. Bronx High School of Science has a specialized curriculum focusing on biology, chemistry, physics and math. Admission to the school requires passing an entrance exam. It is a competitive process to get accepted to the school because there are a limited number of open seats. After graduation, Winer moved on to Tulane University where he graduated with a BA in Mathematics in 1976. He then attended graduate school at the University of Wisconsin. He received a MS in computer science in 1978.

After his years in school, Winer became a powerhouse in the world of technology. He headed software companies and developed RSS and podcasting technologies that brought him fame. Winer was one of the first people to use blogging on the internet, and he contributed to major changes in the way everyday people use the web through his blogs. In 2003, Winer began a fellowship at Havard Law School’s Berkman Center for Internet and Society . At Harvard, he studied the influence of weblogs in education, marketing, journalism, and politics. Through the Berkman Center, Winer started the first BloggerCon . This was a conference for bloggers to meet and discuss new technologies and uses of the blogging world.


Road to Software Fame

While living in Madison, Wisconsin, Winer started to work with outline processing. He worked out of his living room, and developed a way to edit computer code in a tree form. This allowed people to edit software programs easier. He then moved to California and attempted to sell the software to Apple. Though they were interested in parts of Winer’s work, they did not buy his outliner software. He went on to become a lead developer for Personal Software Inc at the age of 24. At PSI, he became an author of a product called VisiText which was the first outliner to use expand and collapse outline display.

Winer left Personal Software in 1981 and founded his own company, Living Videotext Inc. At LVI, Winer developed software that he sold to Macintosh, Apple and IBM. As computers became more popular, the demand for LVI’s software exploded. In 1987, Symantic purchased the company from Winer. After taking a few months off, Winer started his second company, UserLand Software Inc. While at UserLand, Winer developed his most famous technological contributions of RSS feeds and enclosures for those feeds which made podcasting possible.


Winer's Involvement

Winer developed the first of RSS feed in 1997 when he launched his Website, Scripting News. The site used an XML format that allowed public viewers to see updated information as soon as it is published. Scripting News is widely considered to be one of the first blogs on the internet. Netscape built on Winer’s format and launched RSS .90 which allowed users to automatically add news from other sites to the Netscape homepage. At this point, RSS stood for RDF Site Summary.

The next step was to add more features and make RSS simpler for users. In 1999, Winer and UserLand developed a newer version of RSS using a straight XML format. The name changed to Rich Site Summary.

In 2002, Winer left UserLand, but kept working with RSS. He continued work on his Scripting News site, and came out with RSS 2.0. The version was called Really Simple Syndication. It was innovative in RSS because it allowed for a tag for publication dates and other unique features. RSS became even more influencial when major news publications began using the RSS feeds on their websites.

Winer’s contribution to podcasting

Before the year 2000, RSS was only applicable to text. That changed in 2000 when Winer developed “enclosures? which were tags that would pass the address of a media file to an RSS reader. These files included audio files. Winer enclosed the first non text file by putting a Greatful Dead song on his Scripting News site. Now the entire world of blogging and news had changed. People could now subscribe to a website’s RSS feed and receive audio stories or even TV shows.

RSS in plain English

Podcasting in plain English



Changing media


American culture is shaped by many factors. One of the most prominent factors is the consumption of media. While newspapers are still an important part of American journalism, the days of paper boys selling headlines on the corners of busy streets are long gone. The newspaper industry has been struggling in recent years. Major dailies have had to deal with falling number of subscriptions for some time. According to a May 3, 2005 article by Annys Shin in the Washington Post, newspaper subscriptions have been dropping steadily for the last twenty years as people have turned to internet and twenty four-hour cable networks for information. In an attempt to maintain revenue from advertisements and subscriptions, major daily papers weekly community papers have utilized the same multimedia tools that have caused a decline in the papers themselves. Every story that is found on the front step in the morning paper is also found by logging on to the newspaper’s Web site.

Today’s world is driven by media consumption with a major emphasis on speed of information. New technologies have allowed news to reach the public faster than ever, and through a variety of news outlets. Internet sites have the capability to be updated as soon as news happens. Not until the last decade however, has news been able to reach a consumer where ever they are and at any time. Devices like cell phones and iPods have given people the medium needed to have news sent directly and immediately to their pocket. Through the invention of RSS feeds and podcasting, audio and video files can be accessed from any number of Web sites to one location. They have become useful tools in the competition for the fastest news. News organizations, personal blogs, professional broadcasting companies, and amateur movie makers can now come together in one place for anyone who subscribes to their podcasts.

Works Cited

Dave Winer’s Personal Website:

The Bronx High School of Science Website:

Berkman Center for Internet and Society Homepage:

BloggerCon Blog:

Userland Website:

UserLand Website:

Scripting News in XML:

RSS Advisory Board:

RSS for Dummies