Thank Goodness For Standards

I’m working on a big research report for ReadWriteWeb and decided the other day to start my writing in an outline format, which is unusual for me. I bought a $3 iPhone app that lets me create outlines, so I can work on it when I’m in my backyard or wherever else. I bought it happily because I saw in the description that it supported file export in OPML format, or Outline Processor Markup Language. That way I can send it to myself and edit it using a desktop editor made by an entirely different company. See? Standards enabled me to do work in new ways and gave me reason to spend money on someone’s product.

OPML was originally developed by Dave Winer. As was the OPML Editor I’m using on my desktop to do my work. OPML is most commonly used to export bundles of RSS feeds, blogs or podcasts but it doesn’t have to be limited to “just” those kinds of information. RSS is of course something that Winer was also key in the creation of, as was podcasting (he created the enclosure tag that carries MP3 or other files in feeds) and RSS Aggregators (he wrote one ten years ago). Blogging too. That’s all pretty damn incredible. Now Dave’s working on real-time, microblogging and a new RSS reader called River2.

Why am I writing a blog post about Dave Winer’s work over the years? Just because I was appreciating it again when it was so easy for me to buy that iPhone app for outlining and work with it on my desktop as well. Dave’s a controversial guy, and that’s probably an understatement, but he’s my friend. When I realized that, once again, it was in large part the fruit of his work that I was benefiting from when exporting those outlines – it made me want to make a blog post about it. Thanks for all the work you’ve done over the years, Dave. It’s really made a big difference in my life and work.

  • I will always fondly remember your OPML-gasm at Gnomedex. If anyone is to write about Winer’s work, it ought to be you.

  • Marshall, if you don’t mind me asking which iPhone app did you get?