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Dave Winer on blogging, stopping blogging, and archiving digital content for the future
And why I like his posts

Sometimes, I’m tempted to retire from the online world, back to my rocking chair

Dave Winer has been one of the first bloggers on the Internet [1]. He’s also a web applications developer and as such, he wrote the first weblog software, and turned RSS into a standard [2].

Why am I writing about him ? Because I’m a blogger too. And as a blogger, he wrote this [3]. Extract :

« Blogging not only takes a lot of time (which I don’t begrudge it, I love writing) but it also limits what I can do, because it’s made me a public figure. I want some privacy, I want to matter less, so I can retool, and matter more, in different ways. What those ways are, however, are things I won’t be talking about here. That’s the point. That’s the big reason why. »

This post is in a good place in my web navigator bookmark. I often think about it. Dave began blogging in October 1994. Sometimes, I’m tempted, like him, to stop all this. Not just blogging. But generally, working at librarian’s associations, indirectly training other people, spending lots of my time for others who only sometimes help me and very, very rarely thank me for this community work or pay for it [4]. I don’t benefit a lot from it. Reputation seldom translates itself into money or comfort. Don’t misunderstand me : I take a lot of pleasure in writing, explaining things and helping the community. But sometimes, one is out for more — or a different kind of reward. I feel that, after more than ten years, a time may come when someone gets tired.

Online community. Not exactly human relationships

But Dave is still blogging. So he still isn’t tired yet from blogging. I neither [5]. And he cares about the future of digital, especially online, content.

He recently wrote that [6]. Extract :

« Academics have always had this problem. A university employs a scholar, sometimes for a lifetime. He or she creates a body of work, that then must be made available to future generations. That’s why we have libraries at universities. But lately, as with all kinds of intellectual work, scholarship is being done on computers. So when a professor retires or dies, we are left with an array of electronic files and folders in a variety of formats. What use will they be in the future if the apps that can read them aren’t maintained.

This blog and its related sites are another good example. As much as I don’t like thinking about it, someday I am going to die. And when that happens, unless someone pays the ISPs, and someone relaunches the servers when they crash, and cleans out the databases when they fill up — poof — there goes Dave’s online presence. »

Archiving digital content, in spite of all its different and temporary formats and readers (software). Yes, that’s a problem. But although the French National Library (BNF) gave this blog an ISSN number (which means they probably archive it in the process of their « depôt légal du web français »), I don’t feel this blog deserves it in the long run, except maybe for historical reasons (writing an history of French legal publishing). Things just go too fast in this information hungry, interconnected world. Maybe, close to what Saint-Exupéry’s Petit Prince said, important things belong to the heart, not the head. Nor in computers or networks. Once again, Saint-Exupéry :

« The greatness of a job/craft may lie, first and foremost, in uniting men : there is only one real luxury, and that is human relationships. » [7]

Maybe, concealed deep inside their technical work, that’s what true librarians, but also journalists, writers and publishers participate into and why they do their job.

Emmanuel Barthe

Why we librarians work. The real reason


[1He also has a Twitter account.

[2No, he didn’t exactly invent it.

[3Why I will stop blogging / Dave Winer, 13 March 2006.

[4On the other hand, I want to thank the members of my family, friends and colleagues who have helped me throughout those years with their wise criticisms, suggestions, their own works and writings and above all, their listening. I also have to thank all the numerous lawyers and interns I’ve worked with, who have had a kind word for my efforts, and all the law partners and senior associates who have had confidence in my library managing and my research skills, often to the point of instructing interns to check their research with me.

[5Well, for the time being.

[6Meeting at Library of Congress / Dave Winer, 3 November 2010.

[7My translation.