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Ideas in the air

I've been thinking about Tim O'Reilly's discussion with Todd Dickinson, the director at the USPTO. Tim got hung up over Dickinson's argument about the Xerox Star and its relation to the Mac and Windows.

The Star is an interesting example, but it has nothing to do with the kinds of patents the USPTO is issuing now. The Star was truly a breakthrough produced by a single identifiable entity. Or was it? Wasn't the Star was a synthesis of ideas developed outside Xerox? Remember Doug Engelbart? He did the first mouse and windowing system (and outliner). He worked for SRI, not Xerox.

Further, the Star was developed in the old communication environment, whiteboards, telephones and F2F meetings. The Star was an important step in synthesizing a global interconnected community of thinkers and developers, that easily crosses organizational boundaries. (Also known as The Internet.)

The development environment of 2000 is vastly different from the one of the 1970s. The gestation period for new breakthroughs is measured sometimes in days. Ideas are in the air, who created it first? It's usually impossible to tell. For us, who are developing in this environment, we share so frequently, without any thought. The Dickinson approach spells the end for this process. Speaking for Tim, if I may, we don't want it to end.

This should be a global discussion. I believe any country that wants to grab an advantage can choose to side with the technologists, create a free coding zone, as described on this page on Tuesday.

A simple algorithm. Let the US flush its technology industry down the toilet. Zig to our zag.

Tim's mistake

Tim is a good guy, but he's doing it the wrong way.

I get angry about his support of Amazon. I see it as giving comfort to the enemy. I'm an absolutist on this. There is no such thing as a process-patenter-with-a-heart. And we can't win with Dickinson. He has answers to all our questions. He has a different idea of how software is built. He's a lawyer, not a coder. They think differently.

Let's solve this in a positive way. It's like having two browsers, if Microsoft won't do it, we can always talk to Netscape. I like Italy. I hear their patent system is more rational than the US's. And their cities are more beautiful.

Back to Open Source

Luke Tymowski: "Debating a tool's merits is one thing, hysterical slanders another. I stopped using OS/2 after being embarrassed and disgusted by the behaviour of my fellow OS/2 users. I won't make that mistake again, though. But I still find that sort of behaviour appalling."

Talking with Dale Dougherty at the Amsterdam airport, he said something very wise (and quotable):

"Everyone takes everything personally."

Sometimes it feels that way!


What is WorldOS?

Forrester To Media: Let Go Of That Content!

Red Herring: "Those [business] models should be taken to the barn and shot!"

The Dewbie. "A Debian newbie trying to roll his own."

Slashdot has a riveting interview with Lars Ulrich of Metallica.

John Perry Barlow: and the Death of the Music Industry.

I've never gotten this fortune cookie, have you?

XML-RPC validator moves forward

As of 6/2/00, the following implementations have demonstrated that they interoperate: Frontier, Perl.

Ooops, I fixed a bug in one of the tests, and the Java implementation no longer validates. I'll coordinate with the author on the discussion group.

RFC: validator1.countTheEntities. This test is designed to see if each implementation correctly decodes XML entities.

At 10AM I implemented validator1.countTheEntities, the Frontier source is on this page.

Outage on News.Com

An open question for News.Com. They have run two articles on SOAP that include a list of companies that submitted the SOAP specification to the W3C. In both articles UserLand was omitted. Why?

Outage on Yahoo.Com

Yahoo has a page for weblogs. Interesting selection. I wish I understood how Yahoo does it. Does anyone know?

Jakob is cool

I love Jakob Nielsen, I think he does a good thing for the Web by criticizing it, even though, like many people, I often disagree with his judgments. And people make fun of Jakob, and while I wouldn't like it if it were done to me, I enjoy the creativity his imagery unlocks in others, like the graphic from Partykeller, to the right.

Italy is cool

In Italy, they have a saying that's equivalent to It's even worse than it appears.

When something goes wrong, they say It's Italy!

I can learn to love a country with a slogan like that.

(Unfortunately Italy has a 52% sales tax. Oy!)

Bombs in time capsules

Poor Amazon, with mounting losses and a bubble that burst, perhaps all they have that is monetizable are their patents.

But do they have any control over when news of Amazon-owned patents is released? They're like little bombs in time capsules, seeds planted a few years ago, who knows when the USPTO is going to issue one. Not like product announcements where everything is orchestrated.

How many patent applications has Amazon filed? And how insidious are they? Only Amazon and the USPTO know for sure.

What if Buddhists ran the world?

Simson Garfinkel: "Why can't operating system designers build a better 'undo' feature?"

You'd have to loop back to 1983, and ask Andy Hertzfeld to put support for Undo in the Mac OS. It was just a user interface guideline, a good one, imho, but it doubled the complexity of each application (maybe more than doubled it).

On the other hand, how could the OS support Undo? It's really an application feature. I guess if your OS has a built in WP, DB, etc, it could have Undo, but then it's not really an OS. Whatever.

As Mitch Kapor says, no one is funding technology these days, so it's hard to figure out how Simson will get what he wants. Maybe if magazine reviewers hadn't been so focused on massive feature lists in the late 80s and early 90s, if there had been more Buddhist software reviewers, who appreciated simplicty over breadth, the art of Undo might have progressed in the last seventeen years.

Meat is the subject

I see meat being discussed on various Blogger sites.

We're discussing meat here too, at UserLand. Talking with Andre yesterday (he lives in Germany where many people eat meat, I assume) he said that their equivalent of Waiters-on-Wheels delivers Wiener Schnitzel.

Wow. Now of course that's made of meat, but it's so delicious. I said "Andre, you must get Wiener Schnitzel every night!" He said noooo. (I think he's lying!)

Anyway, I want to add to evhead's definition of meat, posted last night. Meat is also the name of a built-in macro in Frontier, the precursor to bodytext, and grandfathered-in for all time, as the comment says.


Last update: Sunday, June 04, 2000 at 10:20 AM Eastern.

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