My Dad did not make history

My Dad served during World War II. He was in the 82nd Airborne as a paratrooper, and was injured twice while on duty. Through merit and field promotions, he achieved the rank of Captain by war’s end.

During the war, he took flying lessons in Seattle. While he was out on a solo flight, he strayed too close to another plane and almost crashed both of them. He was ordered to land immediately. When he did so, he was informed that he almost ran his plane into the aircraft carrying Eleanor Roosevelt. Needless to say, his flying lessons were cut short.

My Dad did not make history. He is not mentioned in a history of World War II. If he had crashed Roosevelt, he would have made history; luckily he didn’t.

Now, if there was a time when a person was writing an anecdotal history of WWII, then my Dad might make history–his story would add color and nuance to the events of life that surround this war. But his role in the war, and his efforts, important as they were, cannot be seen as a pivotal events. He didn’t, in his individual actions, make history.

That’s how we need to view ‘history’ in Wikipedia–not as an opportunity to be all inclusive; but as an opportunity to be accurate. With this attempt to ‘rewrite’ the history of podcasting, I’m not attempting to be exhaustive in who gets covered; I’m trying to be accurate about what’s covered.

What are the key elements in podcasting without which it would not be as we know it today? Who are the key players who helped create, control, and define it? What are the key events that brought us to this point in time, even if said events weren’t directly related to podcasting? Every entry should be part of an answer to one of these questions. In the end, we should have an entry that everyone can agree is ‘accurate’, and, hopefully, neutral.

Then we can leave the anecdotal information–the fun stories, the chest thumping, the memories, and the expressions of gratitude and admiration–to our own weblogs, articles, books, and podcasts, whichever you prefer.

Or we can tell our daughters over tea one day, about the time when…

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5 Responses to My Dad did not make history

  1. John says:

    I agree with you – a history of anything, be it podcasting or World War II or whatever, should be a story that attempts to answer a set of objective questions like the ones you pose. Who? What? Where? When? Why?

    Wikipedia is a wonderful, interesting resource. But to be effective, its articles must have objectivity.

  2. Elaine says:

    John: don’t forget How! (my 2 journalism classes rear their ugly head….)

  3. Scott says:

    Isn’t there any room in Wikipedia for anecdotes? I mean, it’s not like they’re short on storage space. Don’t the meaningless, if accurate, anecdotes make history much more interesting. A strictly historical account of George Washington crossing the Delaware is pretty dry unless you include him throwing a coin across. Chances are, the coin tossing is what will cause you to remember the entire event.

    Heck, this little edit war will probably be the only reason people remember any of the players in podcasting history. Do any of the webs umpteen bazillion users remember or care about Tim Berners-Lee? Maybe a small percentage.

  4. McD says:

    Shelley,

    The story of podcasting is just one thread in the story of RSS. I think you’re inclusion of the request for a media payload enhancement is somewhat off point
    but at least you’re attempting to be fair.

    There’s enough evidence (even from Dave Winer) that Adam Curry had the vision for a new media delivery channel that most closely approximates what has come to pass. Adam knew early that he needed to try to capture the imagination of software developers to make the tools that would be needed to gain mass acceptance.

    That’s why he partnered with Dave Winer and called his podcast the “Daily Source Code”… he was trying to get coders to build creator and audience tools.
    Asked Dave Winer “How can we move these video files from producer to consumer?”. Along the way, Kevin Marks heard the discussion and hacked a python script to move the aggregator payload of audio into the iTunes directory. Most coders will think… big deal.

    What’s important in podcasting is to identify the prime movers and it’s clear to me that Dave Winer was a tool for Adam Curry’s vision. I watched the momentum build and say Curry highlighting others to build a mass market of creators. The details are well documented in close to 300 DSC shows.

    Adam had a vision for an internet media opportunity dating back to the mid 1990′s and what has happened has been carefully guided by his contributions, stewardship and promotion. Will he ever make money from the movement? That remains to be seen… when the barrier to entry is so low it creates huge challenges for monetizing the behaviors of people who just move a creative outlet (“amateurs”).

    So, I’d recommend that the wikipedia article focus more on the vision of the media and how it was driven to widespread acceptance. Who met with Apple,
    MS, Audible, Sirius Satelite Radio, Kleiner-Perkins,
    and forged deals to move the podcast media forward?
    Answer that question and you’ll find the prime driver behind podcasting… and it isn’t Kevin marks, or even Dave Winer.

    It’s sad to see someone so totally dedicated to promoting a fair media tecvhnology that benefits artists get slammed for trying to clean up the
    Wikipedia retelling of a story he has lived for
    over 10 years. But that’s indicative of the level of attemtion Adam has paid to this effort. Hundreds of small details attended to… thousands of miles of air travel and thousands of dollars of personal investment in a dream, a vision and now a reality called podcasting.

    Facts don’t often convey what important in a story… dreams are often a lot more important
    to deliver the essential truths about a movement.
    Find the dreamers and you’ll be closer to the heart of history.

  5. Shelley says:

    McD, I think you should register at the site and add material. But if you want to change the vision of podcasting, you might want to start a discussion item first.

    Scott, indeed there’s room for anecdotes in history. I finished a history book not long ago that was full of such and it was wonderful. But I don’t see an encyclopia to be a history book, or a narrative. I see encyclopedias as being sources of information. More or less bare facts.

    But I put the article to a base. I expect that people will edit and add, but I hope we won’t see people’s names dotted all over it, like raisens in a cinammon roll.