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Friday June 24, 2005 3:43 pm

GnomeDex 5.0: Dave Winer Keynote

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Dave is the opening Keynote at GnomeDex, and he believes that it should be done non-conference style. His idea is that his Keynote should be more like a discussion rather than a speaker/audience type of relationship.

In the mid-90’s he wrote an essay called Bill Gates vs The Internet. The Internet has changed the way software vendors do business, as it has simplified the way a lot of the things that we do today are done. eBay, Yahoo!, Amazon all competing with each other in one way or another, yet the platform they use is the same - the Internet. None of these companies developed the platform, so it puts them all on an even keel. That is the power of the Internet.

Talking about eBay, they thought they would be absolutely dominant, going so far as to purchase PayPal to keep everything internal. Nowadays, people are realizing that they don’t need eBay as much as they thought they did. I actually agree, as nowadays everyone I know uses the free Craigslist rather than going to eBay to pay their exorbitant fees.

Dave says the W3C was ineffective. There has not been any effective evolution of the web. Not that they are stupid, but rather the dominant Internet vendor had the power to say whether the net would evolve or not. This is why the people took the power back through things like RSS.

After about 20 minutes of not being able to grab an IP address from the wireless network (too many PC’s!), Dave was finally able to get on the network. Now he begins his demo - an OPML based blog publishing tool. Shows the backend of ScriptingNews. He can edit an OPML file, and it edits his website in realtime, and it is ridiculously quick. He then showed how he edits his Smart Blogs area, again just using an OPML file and clicking save. It really has the look and feel of just typing in a text editor and clicking the save button - it’s that quick. Even changing the header graphic is as simple as browsing to a file and clicking on it. Refresh the browser and it is there. Truly amazing.

Even better, Dave added an MP3 Podcast to the blog simply by browsing to and selecting an MP3 file. The blog publishing software then creates the RSS feed with all appropriate enclosures. This really looks like it will allow anyone to do these things that previously only us techies have been able, or willing to do.

The network is once again down, so Dave discusses why this is open source - which is fantastic news. Users can add on features, such as a spell checker. Dave thinks this is the next phase of the web. News changes, but there are plenty of things that don’t change, such as the names of the Major League Baseball teams. He is trying to develop a tool for both needs - changing information as well as information that does not change. He does not think that you can get top of the line development for something like this from a corporate environment. Open source is the way to go. There are about 60 testers using this - he hoped to launch it at Gnomedex, but it isn’t quite ready. He will open the doors when he knows that at least 80% of those who download will have a great experience with it and be excited about it. They are working on both a Windows and Mac version - Windows is farther along, but they will have both.

Someone asks a question about why Dave doesn’t have permalinks, comments, trackbacks. Dave responds that he does have comments, but only on posts where he wants to allow them. Usually, they are all flames. Flamers want to get you entangled in their mess. He doesn’t want to put up with that, but he doesn’t have an objection to trackbacks, comments, etc. on a blog.

Someone asks what Dave was demoing, invoking laughter. He forgot to name the product. It is called “The OPML Editor”. Someone else asked about the name. No one knows what OPML means, less than 1 out of 100 people. That could be a turn off. Dave says that people don’t know what RSS is either, but if you use NetNewsWire, you don’t need to know what RSS is even though you are using it.

After talking about The OPML Editor a bit more, Dave ended the keynote by having everyone sing Yellow Submarine. No, I did not participate. Not a Beatles fan.


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