The Syndicate conference starts at 8am here in San Francisco. I'm giving the opening remarks. In the spirit of syndication itself, I decided I'd rather blog what I'm going to say, rather than prepare slides about it.
After the opening wisecracks which will probably include something about what it really means to be the conference "chair" (Please move your ass off my lap. Thank you.) I'll tell the story of how Dave Winer got me started blogging more than six years ago, and how without his help I might just be another tech writer making money on the side telling clueless companies how to market stuff.
I'll talk about Dave's original vision of the writeable Web, and how there never has been a more empowering concept than his original "Edit This Page".
Except, of course, syndication. Dave drove that too. He was the guy who turned RSS from "Rich Site Summary" to "Really Simple Syndication".
Blogging and syndication are on one side of a split in the Web, as it grows outward and upward like a tree, that is revealed by the difference between "site summary" and "simple syndication".
On one side is the Static Web of sites that we architect and build and construct, at locations with addresses. On the other is the Live Web of pages that we write or author and publish and syndicate, and which can be browsed or subscribed to.
Tim Berners-Lee conceived the Web in the first place as a set of documents, linked to each other. But for a half-decade or more after the browser became popular, we thought of the Web primarily in real estate terms, as a set of sites. Because that's what the tools supported, and that's how we thought about what we did on the Web.
That's also what search engines supported as well. Everything in a URL east of the domain name is a haystack. It has no directory and barely any structure, besides a series of slashes between words. Each slash is a file folder. The static Web is essentially a vast mess of files inside file folders inside file folders. The miracles we call Google and Yahoo are how we find needles in the Web's haystack.
The live Web, however, has a kind of organization. As a living thing, written by human beings in the dimension of time, it goes domain/year/day/date/post. That's how it's organized, even if each URL doesn't exactly conform to that layout.
It also has categories, called tags. This is a new thing we'll be talking about over the next couple days. What matters is that, like blogging and RSS, it's driven by individuals and independent developers. Not by the big guys.
Here's the biggest fact about the live Web: individuals are in charge. The group we used to call consumers are now producers. The demand side is supplying itself. Dealing with that fact, and taking advantage of it, is the biggest challenge and opportunity for everybody who wants to succeed in the live Web.
Think about photography for a minute. Used to be we consumed film and processing and showed prints to a few friends and family members before they went in drawers or albums on shelves in our homes. Now we produce our own photography, publish it on Flickr or BuzzNet, tag it and share it with thousands or millions of people, in a form where it is interesting and useful and completely drives the whole photography business, far more, in the long run, than any brand, even Kodak, ever did.
So there is a new balance of power in the world, that we're seeing first in the live Web. Now individuals are in charge of their own lives, their own livings, and the things they do in the world, many of which involve production of goods like we've never seen before.
That's the new context.
The Live Web, by the way, is a term coined by my son Allen, who blew my mind when he uttered it several years ago. Kudos to him too.
Now I have to get up on stage and let the show begin.