Yes, it’s always about Dave

by Mathew on August 23, 2006 · 11 comments

I must admit I was somewhat interested when I saw a mention of Dave Winer’s new (or not so new, depending on whom you read) mobile “river of news” thingamajig — if only because I have used a BlackBerry and a Treo and a UTStarcom Windows device to read RSS feeds, and have yet to find anything that I really like. Google’s mobile version of its Reader comes close, but it has its flaws too. So I checked out the mobile feed that Dave set up for the New York Times, and for the BBC, and it looked OK. But it still was kind of klunky in a way that is difficult to describe, as far as navigation is concerned.

There were a couple of other things that rubbed me the wrong way too, and others have put them into words for me: Paul Kedrosky, for example, was one of the ones who noted that this type of feed is hardly new — as did Rogers Cadenhead, who admittedly has a somewhat fractious past involving Mr. Winer and some lawyers and so forth, and Josh Bancroft (although Josh seems to have modified his thoughts somewhat since).

As usual when Dave is involved, one of the irritants was just the way he puts things — not just grandstanding, as he does about how much money he makes, but also the cryptic comments that make it obvious he’s trying to get back at someone. My buddy Kent Newsome does a good job of describing this Winer M.O., although he is much kinder that I usually am.

As for the idea that Dave’s rivers of news will be easier for people to read than existing solutions, how easy is it to have to bookmark a new URL for every new mobile feed? I get the fact that he’s working on something like mobile Bloglines, which Josh said changed his mind about the whole thing — I just don’t see why he has to pretend that it’s some kind of revolution. Ian Betteridge wonders too, and as usual, Shelley has her own caustic and hilarious take on it.

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  • http://www.cadenhead.org/workbench/ Rogers Cadenhead

    “as did Rogers Cadenhead, who admittedly has a somewhat fractious past involving Mr. Winer and some lawyers and so forth”

    Your use of the word “somewhat” made me laugh out loud. Thanks!

  • Mathew Ingram

    You’re welcome, Rogers. Glad you got a chuckle out of it — I liked your “Cry me a news river” head :-)

  • http://www.kbcafe.com/rss Randy Charles Morin

    It\’s not so much that Dave is creating mobile RSS reading. Dave has an amazing way of moving a technology forward. In fact, Dave didn\’t even invent RSS. It was a dead technology that Dave picked up off the floors at Netscape and fathered into the #1 XML format on the Web. Dave doesn\’t build mountains. He moves them.

  • Mathew Ingram

    Thanks for the comment, Randy. And you are right that Dave has done a lot — I don’t want to diminish what he has been able to accomplish. But I don’t want to overstate it either.

  • http://petercranstone.blogspot.com/ Peter Cranstone

    He’s way behind the curve. He took someone else’s invention and improved it. Nothing wrong with that. In this industry it’s all about timing anyway. He then sits back and tells the world what he’s done. Along the way he picks fights with everyone. Now all of a sudden he’s discovered mobile. And he immediately starts trying to direct the natural forces to his way of thinking for RSS being delivered to Mobile. Mobile is a different beast than the desktop. The whole experience is inconsistent with the desktop for a number of reasons. Wait until Dave buys a Windows Mobile device and really dives in under the hood. He’ll be back to Windows 3.1 programming. Years ago my partner and I played with the Blackberry. We were the first to add support for real time data compression on the device. However our conclusion was that the Blackberry would be used mainly for email rather than web surfing. It’s a great reading device – hence the focus on RSS feeds… however when it comes to surfing the web and RSS then WIndows Mobile will be the eventual winner. Lets see if Dave can move RSS forward for all Mobile devices. Only one problem, this time he’s late to the party.

  • Mathew Ingram

    Thanks for the comment, Peter. How’s your mobile app coming along?

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