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Last Updated: Thursday, 14 June 2007, 10:43 GMT 11:43 UK
The Tech Lab: Dave Winer
Dave Winer, Dave Winer
Mr Winer is seen as the father of blogging by many
Dave Winer, considered by many to be the father of blogging and a pioneer of RSS feeds, offers his personal view on technologies he would like to see in existence one day.

I'm a blogger, therefore I like to write short two or three paragraph essays on things I care about. The BBC asked me to write an 800-word column on new technology I want, but being a blogger, instead I want to write about five or six things in 200 words each. That's what bloggers do.

Improving podcasting

I love podcasting, both listening to podcasts and creating them. But today's podcast players are too awkward, they weren't designed to subscribe to shows, instead they were designed to listen to collections of music (which is great too).

Podcasts are very different from albums of music. For example, one episode of a podcast has almost no value once you've listened to it. Where you might listen to a song 10 or 15 times before you tire of it (or 100 or 1,000 times if you're like me), you really only listen to an episode of The Gillmor Gang or On The Media once, and then it's off to the trash.

You want to protect your music from accidental deletion, but you might want to automatically delete a podcast after you listened to it. We think about these things differently, even though both are MP3 files and both are played on iPods or similar devices.

In order to really work for podcasting, I think a new kind of player needs to have built-in wi-fi, and when you come within range of a signal, a light comes on and you can press a button to have it automatically connect to the internet and download the latest episodes of shows you're subscribed to.

It would work much the way a Blackberry gets e-mail, without you having to do anything.

Antennae galaxies, Ap/Nasa
I'd like to pay a few bucks to beam my thoughts to a nearby solar system that might have intelligent life

Also, like blogging, podcasting is a two-way medium, so every portable podcast player would also be able to record, and with a single button-click upload and instantly publish new podcast feeds.

If you think about it, all successful computer platforms have the ability to create the software they play, and a podcast player is definitely a computer.

Another thing I really want from podcast players is that they be open to running new software. Today, if I wanted to add a feature to a player I already own, I need to get into the hardware business, and that's prohibitive.

But if someone made a player that had a simple scripting language that would run software I (or anyone else) wrote, we would certainly see a huge amount of creativity very quickly.

It is sad that today's podcast players are all closed boxes and only run the software that the manufacturer supplies. What a waste.

Now on to some ideas that are not related to podcasting...

Two-way broadcasting

I love public radio and television, but it's time for them to become two-way media.

Next time we go to war, and we seem to be doing that all-too-regularly, we must be certain that the kinds of conversations that ordinary people have about the motives of our political leaders make it onto the airwaves.

And I'd like to know what the pundits are saying when they go out to dinner, not just when they're on the air. We knew Bush was lying in the lead-up to the war, now let's reform the media so those thoughts get proper coverage in time to avoid national catastrophes like the war in Iraq.

I imagine you all could use this in the UK as well (since we're in much the same mess in Iraq, misery loves company).

Perpetual hosting

I'd also like to be able to pay a web company, such as Amazon or Google, a one-time flat fee to host my content in perpetuity.

If I were Bill Gates, I might send a copy of Windows Vista to Alpha Centauri
I'd like to be able to deposit my writing with them, on the web, and not worry about whether or not my heirs will keep paying the hosting bills to keep it alive.

Today I'm hosting the weblog of my departed uncle (who I miss terribly!). I don't mind doing it, but what will happen when I pass? I'd gladly pay $10,000 (5,100) to be sure our sites survive my death.

Interplanetary data storage

Another idea along these lines, I'd like to pay a few bucks to beam my thoughts to a nearby solar system that might have intelligent life.

Back in the 70s, I thought it was really cool when they sent a satellite into the cosmos bearing a copy of the Magna Carta and Declaration of Independence and some Chuck Berry tunes (and Beethoven and Bach as well).

Voayger gold record, Nasa
A gold disc of Earth sounds is travelling with Voyager 1 & 2
I think this should be available to ordinary people like you and me, possibly for a charge. Maybe they could run a contest or have a reality show for people who don't want to spend the money.

I'm in favor of ideas that capture the imagination, because I think we don't have enough of that when it comes to solving problems we must deal with.

If I were Bill Gates, I might send a copy of Windows Vista to Alpha Centauri (of course with a computer to run it on) and hold a contest for kids to write software that aliens might appreciate.

One can be pretty sure that because of global warming or the war on terror or loose nukes that our terrestrial backups probably aren't much good, long-term, but the stuff we send out into the cosmos might actually survive us.

Do we have any ideas worth preserving? Hmmm. We might generate some if we had a reason to...




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