The story is as follows -- Dave Winer made Software in the late 80's. Some of his products were pretty good, like an outliner (MORE) that was a top notch product. Eventually he sold that product (company) to Symantec (who destroyed the product) but, it made Dave Winer what most would call "rich" (multi-millionaire). Symantec let the product die for a few reasons, not the least of which was that the markets dried up, but there is more to it than that -- but that would be wandering off topic.
Dave then went on and did the "next big thing", when he created UserLand Software and started work on his own scripting environment called Frontier.
Apple was coming out with System 7, which had a few key feature additions. One key addition was called AppleEvents. It allowed programmers to send messages around to themselves in a standardized way. That is not a big deal by itself, but with all messages standardized the System (or utilities) could capture things that you did (like choose a menu, or type something) and log those actions and repeat them on command (to make Macros to allow you to replay those actions anytime you wanted), which is an important function. Not only that, but the AppleEvents were common across different applications, so that you could capture events across MULTIPLE applications and automate things to work with many commercial applications at once. (Create a table in Excel, and paste it into Word Perfect, format it, then mail merge it with a database created in FileMakerPro, all with one set of captured "events"). This scripting capability was an incredibly powerful function, and the whole reason why Apple creating AppleEvents. It is also a function that the Mac has, but that Windows does not really do (though you can hack windows into doing something far inferior) but that is a separate issue.
So AppleEvents were neat, because Apple could create AppleScript to automate ANY Application (that used AppleEvents). Dave Winer saw the value in this scripting, but it was going to take Apple a year or two to get AppleScript "out-the-door", after they created System7 (and AppleEvents). So he put together a product called Frontier (supposedly because he was pushing the frontier of scripting?). It was a nice product, and very useful. Of course Apple could not rely on his company to offer the only solution to scripting, it was a KEY technology for the Mac. For scripting to be really successful Apple needed to make it ubiquitous -- every machine had to come with it, and it had to be expandable for the future. Apple also had a different approach to solving the scripting issues and in some ways was more than Frontier's approach (in other ways it was not). Apple could also add functionality so that programmer could RUN scripts from within their programs. So Apple came out with AppleScript, as they said they were going to all along.
Dave Winer was livid! How dare Apple compete with him. He felt he had a superior product, and they were trying to drive his product out of business. Of course Apple had stated all along that they saw scripting as a key technology for the Mac, and that they were going to come out with AppleScript. But that didn't matter to Dave. He became a raging Apple-Basher after that, with an opinion on everything (mostly bad ones) and was determined that Apple was pure evil and incompetent because they competed with their developers (him). He was never able to realize WHY Apple had done it, or why Apple should have done it. (I still agree with Apple's decisions). Dave could have easily worked with AppleScript more, and made his system the premier way to develop for AppleScript, and to a point, he did. But instead of seeing Apple as "giving him the ability to add value to AppleScript" and "making scripting more common place," he just resented Apple for daring to come into his market. What is even more silly, is that he pretends that MS would not have done the same thing. Yeah, right!
Now we are subjected to the most inane opinions from Dave, about what Apple should do! Every time the press wants to get a negative spin, to slam Apple, they call on Dave Winer and quote him as some great Mac Developer that everyone listens to. Of course only the press really seems to listen to him, and I hear him ridiculed in developer circles far, far more than he is complimented. Even the compliments I hear are usually along the lines of "he had a cool product once, a decade ago, long before he got that stick up his ass".
Some of Dave's gems of logic include things like - Apple should drop Rhapsody, partner up with MS and make the Mac OS a UI shell on top of WindowsNT -- Microsoft Apple Partnership. This idea is so fundamentally stupid as to convince me this guy needs to seek mental help, immediately. No one has ever gotten into bed with Microsoft and not gotten out feeling screwed. Everyone with an I.Q. of spam (or greater) realizes how stupid this deal is -- even the press (which arguably has an I.Q. far below a tin of spam). Everyone realizes that MS would gladly make the deal, wait a year or two until the customer base is committed to Apple's new direction, then MS would change WinNT just enough that Apple's shell "accidentally" breaks. MS would have the complete Mac customer base committed, and Apple would be dead. That is MS's standard M.O. (Mode of Operation). MS wins, Apple loses, customers lose. Brilliant idea -- if you are a Microsoft lackey and trying to pay back Apple for some past wrong.
Earlier this week we were treated to another gem, by the Apple-hater. This one was that Apple should throw away all of their R&D money, and instead give it to small developers / investors (like Dave Winer's company). To basically gamble that they will make the next hot product, that would somehow justify buying a Mac -- the Road to Bankruptcy. This guy is honestly saying, with a straight face, that Apple should not finish the hottest OS / Development Platform in the last 20 years (Rhapsody) -- and should instead gamble with that money?! Even if a company did succeed in breaking new ground, there are far too many companies that would copy the ideas of any of the successful start-ups, if it looked even VAGUELY like their products were even going to be mildly successful. Rhapsody is Apple's future and empowers developers to create better products, and ship them for Mac AND Windows. A far, far better idea. Not to mention that the press would crucify Apple for having no future, and the consumers and loyalists would lose all confidence in Apple if they were gambling on Dave's brilliant [extreme sarcasm] idea!
Those two articles are just the latest sampling of his "ideas".
Dave and Jesse Berst (ZD Editor and writer) seem to have a mutual love affair, and quote liberally from each other's worst articles. They are trying to start some "mutual validation" society, where they each vie for the stupidest article and get the other to validate it as "genius." I wonder whether it is a sick game to see who can sell the biggest load of crap to the public and pull it off!
Basically Dave spent the month of June bashing Sun, and pumping Microsoft, claiming that Sun was proprietary, and somehow implying that MS was not. He implied that Java is just revamped UCSD P-Code (it is), and implied that because of that, it makes the technology useless (it does not). Some technologies fail because the industry or infrastructure could not support them at the time. UCSD P-Code was slow because there is overhead, and more because micro-computers were slow in the late 70's and early 80's. Welcome to the 90's. What was invalid 10 generations ago (in computer lifetimes) may be valid today. That happens when computer performance increases over 1,024 times! Java is still not fast, yet, but computers are continuing their rapid performance climb (doubling every year to year and a half)! So it IS going to be a valid concept -- if not today then tomorrow -- even if it was not valid decades ago. Welcome to computers. The same argument applies to NeXTSTEP (Rhapsody) and it's less than raging success in the 80's. The power of computers and sophistication of users now enables Rhapsody in the 90's and in the turn of the millennium. These same concepts have been applied to thousands of products in our lifetimes. Velcro did not succeed right away because they didn't have the technology to cheaply manufacture it, we had to wait 2 human generations 40+ years) for it to "suddenly" succeed. This is how things work. A technologist that doesn't understand this "basic concept" is useless.
Each and every article Dave Winer writes, seems to have some of the most inane comments buried inside of them. "Java developers are uncomfortable with the web." Huh? "Apple hasn't changed." Sure, Rhapsody, layoffs, new management, different focus, all not change? Then in the same article Dave says "the old Apple is gone." Which is it?! He says that he will not develop for YellowBox/Rhapsody and implies that means anything -- like I will even notice! He comments that small developers are important -- then says that if you are going to buy Apple you should talk to the "top" 20 developers to see what they are doing. What happened to the small developers?! They are not the top 20, they are the bottom 1,000. There are contradictions upon contradictions, and sputum upon offal.
The worst part about DaveNet and his opinions seems to be the most amazingly ego-centric, self-serving views on the world. WebObjects suck? Why? Well maybe because Frontier offers 1,000th the functionality (in some people's minds) and Dave probably sees WebObjects as some sort of competition. Of course that is like comparing a moped to a Bus -- different functionality and goals. Java sucks, but cross platform scripting as a concept is cool (especially his own version). Apple should give up strategic directions for their OS, and instead listen to small developers (specifically him). Apple's problems are they compete with developers -- then later Apple's problems are that they don't do enough for developers or users. For Apple to do more, they would have to compete with tools developers and other developers! Always Dave seems to have his own personal interests at the top of his list of priorities -- not a shocker, but surprising that that isn't pointed out more, and that he is treated like a serious analyst. The messages all seem to be the same -- Apple should follow HIS lead, ask him how to run the company, and not think for themselves.... and make sure to make HIM richer, along the way.
Basically, Winers Whining come down to a frustrated blow-hard spewing his opinions about anything, and taking every opportunity to bash Apple along the way. Every decision Apple makes, without consulting him first, will be wrong. I have yet to see a piece that says that "Apple did good on X" -- at least without the next sentence being "but they are screwing up on Y, and should do Z". He is the proof that you can not trust what you find on the internet -- the signal to noise ratio is far too low (but then you probably shouldn't trust the mainstream press, or even myself -- check the facts out for yourself!) He is also proof that just because you make money does not mean that you have any wisdom or insight. Who knows, he may surprise me and come out with a gem of an article -- with the 5,000 stupid ones he's written, statistical probability would imply that eventually he'll get a hit sooner or later. For now, I'm still waiting.