Monday, 21 November 2011

Internet Writing the Web

Writing the Web
The scene was now set for the rise of a new kind of news. But some final pieces had yet to be put in place. One was technological: giving everyday people the tools they needed to join this emerging conversation. Another was cultural: the realization that putting the tools of creation into millions of hands could lead to an unprecedented community. Adam Smith, in a sense,was creating a collective.The toolmakers did, and continue to do, their part. And with the neat irony that has a habit of appearing in this transformation, a programmer’s annoyance with journalists had everything to do with one of the most important dev Dave Winer had written and sold an outlining tool called “More,” a Macintosh application. He was a committed and
knowledgeable Mac developer, but in the early 1990s, he found himself more and more annoyed by a trade press that, in his view, was getting the story all wrong. At the time, Microsoft Windows was becoming more popular, and the hype machine was pronouncing Apple to be a troubled and, perhaps, terminally wounded company. Troubled, yes. But when the computer journalists persisted in saying, in effect, “Apple is dead, and there’s no Macintosh software  development anymore,” Winer was furious. He decided to go around the established media, and with the rise of the Internet, he had a medium. He published an email newsletter called “DaveNet.” It was biting, opinionated, and provocative, and it reached many influential people in the tech industry. They paid attention. Winer’s critiques could be abrasive, but he had a long record of accomplishments and deep insight. Winer never really persuaded the trade press to give the Mac the ink it deserved. For its part, Apple made strategic mistakes that alienated software developers and helped marginalize
the platform. And Windows, with the backing of Microsoft’s roughhouse business tactics that turned into outright lawbreaking, became dominant. But Winer realized he was onto something. He’d found journalism wanting, and he bypassed it. Then he expanded on what he’d started. Like Justin Hall, he created a newsy page in what later became known as the blog format—most recent material at the top.In the late 1990s, Winer and his team at UserLand  Software, rewrote an application called Frontier. One collection of new functions was given the name Manila, and it was one of the first programs that made it easy for novices to create their own blogs. My first blog was created on the beta version of Manila. Winer has suggested that traditional journalism will wither in the face of what he helped spawn. I disagree, but hiscontributions to the craft’s future have been pivotal.

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