Dave Winer Rediscovers the Newswire

Not to rain on Dave Winer’s self-promoting parade — and I think his nytimesriver, bbcriver, etc., are all fine — but what he’s noisily done here is rediscovered the merits of a newswire. And as any journalist, broker, analyst, or fund manager will tell him, such things have been around as long as there have been terminals. 

The essence: Newswires (aka “rivers”, in Winer parlance) are co-mingled stories that go out in a headline-centric format in something approaching realtime. Which is a fine idea, so fine, in fact, that I’ve only been doing it myself here (www.kedrosky.com/latest.html) for over four years. I’ve also been calling for a proper Bloomberg-killer — i.e., streaming headlines — for at least twice as long, like since I left the brokerage industry in the mid-1990s.

So don’t me wrong, Dave is on to something, it’s just a) not new, and b) already has a perfectly decent name. Building a Bloomberg-killer newswire remains a noble goal, but let’s not confuse things by pretending it’s a new idea, or that it needs another name.


  1. My thoughts exactly, Paul. Maybe we should call it “Newswire 2.0” :-)

  2. c) Who cares?

  3. FYI, my first aggregator was a “newswire” in 1999, which is seven years ago, which is three years more than four. :-)
    Not that it matters, nor would I have even mentioned it, had you not made an issue of it.
    Have a nice day. :-)

  4. Its about as original taking XML and renaming it RSS. It is disturbing that people with “A-listers” can go out and lay claim to things that have been in wide spread use for years and call it thier own.
    Don’t sites like Etrade.com and others have a automated news feed built into their java app day traders platform?

  5. Just curious, what’s the big problem with the “Bloomberg-killer”? Licenses? With all the aggregating and repackaging that’s being done now, combined with all the hype about it, shouldn’t every conceivable variation be done to death?

  6. For some reason, I’m reminded of one of my favourite comments from an English prof: “What you have done is both good and original — but the parts which are good are not original, and the parts which are original are not good.”

  7. So are you looking for something like PointCast offered back in the day?

  8. No, I want a Bloomberg/DJNR/whatever built on RSS/feeds etc. In other words, realtime vertically scrolling headlines where old stories popup, displacing existing stories, push thing off the page.
    What I do not want:
    – Horizontal scrolling
    – Headline loops where I see the same stories over and over
    – Ten-minute delays, etc.

  9. Ah, there’s the technical problem. “RSS” and “realtime” are difficult to put together – pull vs. push.

  10. ny times had published in microsoft’s CDF format back in 2000 or so, i think it was, well before Dave claims he insprired the breakthrough thiinking at the nytimes do do RSS.
    seriously.. isn’t rss scary similar to the old CDF format? with xpath and other simple xml parsers, it’s interesting to how the various formats win the users.
    my very old xml book mentioned this link back in 2000 i think it was