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Why I Got Upset over Dave’s Mobile Web Discovery

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I’ve been doing some thinking, about why I even care about Dave Winer’s recent discovery of mobile web pages, and the improvements he’s started to make. And why other people care enough to attack him.

It hurts when you’ve been evangelizing something for years, with mild results, and then someone much higher profile comes along, discovers the same cool thing, and the world reacts like that high profile person just discovered/invented the coolest thing ever.

I posted a similar comment on Phil Jones’ blog, which I found via Dave.

I’ve been viewing mobile web pages daily for years, and telling and
showing people why it’s cool and useful. No one showered me with praise
for discovering the next disruptive technology. 😉

I don’t know if it’s jealousy, or resentment, or how to name it. But I know that’s a big part of the emotional reaction I’ve had to the whole “Dave’s mobile rivers of news” thing. I’m over it, now, and looking forward to what Dave can do here. But a couple of day’s reflection brought me this, so I wanted to post it. I can’t speak for others, but I’d be willing to bet the ones saying “we’ve been doing this for years” are feeling something similar.

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19 thoughts on “Why I Got Upset over Dave’s Mobile Web Discovery

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  4. Josh… I’ve been using web browsers on mobile devices since the Handspring Visor with the Visorphone attachment, which would be around 1998. Since then I’ve used numerous resources that bring the web as we know it to mobile devices.

    You are not the only feeling like this. I feel the same when the some “obvious” thing is found by someone famous – the very same obvious thing a Z-List blogger has been advocating for years.

    It all makes the world seem unfair – which it may be. Marketing yourself is more important than marketing your idea.

  5. Josh I agree with Maurcio… We have had an autodetect on our site since 2002 and quite honestly I even have implemented a mobile CMS system that I can use ANY cellphone/pda to post a story up to Mobility Today.

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  7. I’ve been creating sites with mobile feeds, and web-based tools that convert others’ sites into mobile feeds, since 1997. Almost a decade later Winer does the same in a more limited way and it’s REVOLUTIONARY. Bah.

  8. I hear what you all are saying and I too had similar feelings at first…

    I have been developing mobile applications for over 6 years, many involving content (web included) distribution and rendering on mobile devices, and this “discovery” and subsequent noise felt.. well… unwarranted.

    But, I have to say I think the attention to mobility is good for us all! I say more power to Dave and I hope he does some great things (even though this product is somewhat a competitor to mine at newsgator).

    This is a good thing for mobility and market penetration…

    -kevin

  9. Dave makes shmootz happen.

    That makes some people unhappy.

    Scoop Nisker said it all:

    “If you don’t like the news, go out and make some of your own”

    — stan

  10. Kevin, that’s the way we should compete, with the user’s interest at heart. Whatever makes them richer and happier is likely to make us richer and happier too. :-)

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  12. Mike says:

    This is all kinda like when Al Gore “invented” the internet, huh? Funny, I don’t remember seeing uncle Al crowded around an X terminal wondering and scratching our heads about this new fangled “world wide web browser” and what it was going to do that gopher didn’t.

    “N.I.H.” is alive and well in Dave land only he’s been good at repackaging other peoples ideas and prior work as his own. Very al-gore like method of getting around NIH indeed.

    As a number of people have remarked, if Dave would spend time and effort acknowledging the prior work of others rather than his constant focus on me me me, its unlikely that people would react as badly to his brainwaves. Its all in the packaging and selling.

    Instead of “here’s xyzriver.com and I thunk it up all by myself isn’t it (and me) wonderful” why not “where’s xyzriver.com – I got tired of the presentation format typically available and repackaged some ideas that have been lying around the web for almost a decade, and by the way aa, bb, and cc are doing similar work. you should check them out too”.

    too much to ask, I bet.

  13. This is an interesting discussion.

    I think it’s interesting that many of the ideas that originated off scripting.com seemed like “so what” at first, at least to people (often including me) who didn’t get it at the time.

    Blogs: “So what. It’s just like Geocities with a particular template.”

    RSS: “It’s just like HTML without all the ads and blink tags.”

    Podcasting: “Automatic MP3 downloading? There are about a million existing options for that!”

    OPML: “You’re just serializing an outline! How is that interesting?”

    I tried to show someone at a big media company the new mobile newsriver stuff. His reaction was that they already had that, a mobile section on their site.

    I’m not even quite sure yet how Dave’s new thing is different from the mobile site versions that have been around for years. I don’t know what to tell my friend at the big media company. But I’ve learned from experience that it’s probably worthwhile to wait and figure it out ;->

  14. Ryan, many of the mobile site versions that have been around for years are very similar to Dave’s new thing. I was reading reverse-chrono news posts on my Palm about 6 years ago. The differences are that this is a hack off RSS, rather than providing more web-friendly mobile-styled HTML, and that Dave is involved.

    I notice Dave didn’t correct your misattribution. RSS and blogs didn’t originate off scripting.com, certain other individuals were also involved in podcasting. OPML is all Dave’s though.

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