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Permanent link to archive for Friday, July 07, 2000. Friday, July 07, 2000

Truckin the News 

Max Frankel: The Nirvana News. "There is no doubt that the Web is a much more efficient distributor of information than the two-ton truck. Newspapers must adapt to digital technologies or die. The foreseeable techniques of presenting news are dazzling, but they do not yet point to a reliable stream of income to pay for the harvesting of news."

It's a little subtle, but I strongly believe a new economy will form around news written by people who are now considered amateurs by professional journalists. The journalism profession delivers superficial stories, esp in technology, where most of the writers lack the background of even a first year computer science undergrad. Easily routed around, already routed around, imho.

In other areas, we'll rely on multiple sources, as today's reporters do, but instead of turning to icons of questionable integrity, people like Larry Ellison, Scott McNealy, Steve Jobs, Bill Gates or Bill Joy, we'll get the stories from the people, and assemble our own news from those sources. I want to know about the products these guys make, not their bluster and fud.

Leaders will still exist, but they will be people who also communicate electronically, without so much ceremony or pomp. I can read email that Linus Torvalds or Tim Berners-Lee post on mail lists. Why do I have to go to a press conference to find out what they think? Wasted money, for the most part.

The current print industry makes it easy. They're lazy, and until recently fairly scared of technology. Now the Web is getting more mature, and the next barrier we'll cross is the combination of quality, integrity and economics.

Frankel says "The oft-heard promise of 'free news' is an oxymoron. Americans will get the journalism they pay for."

Hogwash, I say. Teach the Web to deliver high quality writing. That's the role for people who know the news business. It's obvious, you just have to accept what Frankel does, that the Web delivers news much more efficiently than dead trees and delivery trucks, and follow the trail that leads from there.

I wrote about this in February. I still believe it, totally. Quotes, pictures and facts aren't as expensive as Frankel thinks, and we can increase the quality at the same time.


I saw a PBS show on Mandelbrot sets and fractals, hosted by Arthur C. Clarke. I had no idea they were so beautiful and so potentially important, or even what they were. They may be even bigger than the universe. It's possible that everything's a fractal, even our brains; they may be the key to understanding DNA, and like floor wax, they can even be used to compress images on computer networks like this one (the Internet).

Benoit Mandelbrot, a researcher at IBM in upstate NY, is alive and speaks English. He was on the show! Of course soon after the show was over I wondered if IBM took out patents on this stuff. Would that dampen Clarke's enthusiasm for fractals if they had? Questions questions.

Sean Lindsay on fractal image compression.

Google search for Mandelbrot.

Jeru, Great Hair and Green Dragons 

Now that I've put some of Jeru's writing on the Web, perhaps we can go some new places.

I spent the weekend with friends that I know through Jeru. Some old friends and some new ones. I got a lot of exercise this weekend, emotional exercise too, and heard my little boy, the one that's four years old, very clearly for much of the weekend. This was lovely.

Suntanned and emotionally expressed, yesterday was a Great Hair day at SFO. That made it more entertaining. Everywhere I went heads turned. I caught people staring at me. I smiled, somewhat embarassed. This is not the normal thing for me.

With Jeru's stories fresh on my mind, I realized something, most of the people who are looking at me probably think I'm a relative of theirs, someone from their deep past, perhaps their father or older brother, or (it is this bizarre) their mother. The little child in all of us doesn't know about time, and doesn't really understand gender.

Of course there's nothing wrong with this, it's the sign of a healthy subconscious. Always looking for the other, to complete us, to save us from certain death.

What to do? Take several deep breaths and compare the imagination to what's really happening, with love, as you would with a child who, waking from a nightmare, is sure there's a green dragon under his or her bed.

"Let's go have a look," Jeru said, "I haven't seen a green dragon in a long time!"

Today's song 

Elton John: "Yours are the sweetest eyes I've ever seen."

John's songs, written by Bernie Taupin, are totally for and from the four-year-old. His music gives a voice to the child, something we're taught to ignore. That's why it can be such a release (and a relief) to listen to Elton John sing.

Bonus song 

Phil Collins: Against All Odds. "I wish I could just make you turn around, turn around and see me cry. There's so much I need to say to you, so many reasons why you're the only one who really knew me at all."

Compare the lyrics with the baby eagle story. Same idea. Without you I won't survive.


Music and the Internet 

There are many reasons why music and the Internet are such an incredible combination. Here's another one.

On the radio, if they play a song that really resonates, I want to listen to it thirty times to let it sink in, to fully experience it. This happened with Them Changes by Buddy Miles. It took me five years to get the song on my hard disk, and loop back to where I was when I heard it the first time, which happened instantly when I finally had it playing on my computer a couple of weeks ago.

On Father's Day, listening to KFOG, they played Father and Son by Cat Stevens. That got me to re-install Napster, and I listened to the song over and over, and saw that my memory had been imperfect, and that when I first heard the song as a teenager, I hadn't understood what it was about.

So I don't just want to listen to music, I want to study it, and let it really sink in, soak it up, and then go on. No medium before the Internet made this so easy.

It may be the most powerful application of the Internet yet.

E-commerce? Hey stores are nice, but they're boring. Teach me something about myself. That's worth much more.

New hardware 

Yesterday I ordered a new computer. (933 MHz!)

I got a 75 gigabyte hard drive. Bierman laughed. "How are you going to use that Dave?"

How many hours of music is 75 gigabytes?

Changed Icons keeps growing 

Chris Langreiter has a REBOL version.

Real Jukebox 

On 6/29 I wondered who I should hate for destroying the performance of my desktop computer. I had installed a lot of new software to get the Lyra working.

Yesterday, I decided that I could live without the Lyra, but I could not live without the local filesystem, so one by one I uninstalled all the pieces I had installed on the 26th.

Which was the culprit? Real Jukebox. A dirty slimy piece of garbage. Off to the bit-bucket. My filesystem works again.

PS: My four-year-old wrote that. Of course I can live without the local filesystem.

Afternoon pointers 

Digital Music Weekly: Living Without Napster. "Once people embrace a new technology like this, it is very hard to get them to give it up."

On Hack-the-Planet I asked Wes for comments on HTTP 1.1. We got a nudge from W3C people that they would like to see Manila support it. Always happy to please them, esp if it's not a multi-month project.

News.Com: Yahoo slides after analyst downgrade. "Yahoo's revenue stream remains highly dependent on advertising, much of which comes from other Internet companies."

A great game, thanks to Camworld for the pointer.

Web Review: The Blogging Revolution. Blog blog blog blog!

Survey: Are you watching Big Brother?


Last update: Friday, July 07, 2000 at 10:18 PM Eastern.

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