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Scripting News, the weblog started in 1997 that bootstrapped the blogging revolution.

Permanent link to archive for Thursday, August 31, 2000. Thursday, August 31, 2000

NY Times: Taking Sides in the Napster War

BTW, August was a record sales month for UserLand. It feels really good to close the month with a healthy profit, and a killer app in the pipe. A hearty thanks to all our customers and testers for helping us be so successful!  

After a full week of intense politics, I'm getting a little time to write some code this evening. What a relief. The first thing I did was write a script that adds 10 random songs to the queue. When I browse through the playlist I'm not getting any new ideas. This script, which will certainly become a command is an idea generator. The first song it picked was Do You Love Me? Yes, I do!  

I'm kind of pissed that Tim O'Reilly is more popular than me, on my own damned site! What can I do to be more popular? Can I bribe you in some way? Is there a feature you'd like? Should I buy another server? Send flowers? Take some time off? Eat fewer beans? 

Right on. Sheila sent me a picture of her diggin in her garden. And a beautiful dahlia! My dahlias aren't doing so well. No no. But my night blooming jasmine is totally something else. Thanks for the flowers Shelia! 

More good news -- I'm going to Mexico in late November and early December, then to New Orleans for the Builder.Com conference, where I'm one of the keynotes. In Mexico I'm going to be a tourist and also will go to the World Economic Forum regional conference. Maybe we should have a Scripting News dinner in Mexico City? Would that work? 

Early this week eGroups changed the format of emails from ad-at-bottom to ad-at-top. This changed the service dramatically. It also changed my opinion, from thumb-up to thumb-down. To the people who run eGroups, now a subsidiary of Yahoo, it took a long time for them to build the trust they have with people who run mail lists. You're losing it right now, imho. Bad decision. 

Lance Knobel: "Calling Hugo Chavez communist is a distortion and over-simplification. He's in the Latin American tradition of charismatic, populist strongmen, generally with military backgrounds." 

David Adams has done an outline viewer that's compatible with Radio UserLand. 

News.Com: Hambrecht supports Salon stock

Apple and Mac OS X Permanent link to this item in the archive.

It had been a long time since I'd seen an Apple booth. They have one at Seybold. It's huge. But for the first time in my experience, there were no developer products there. At the evening session David Biedny asked if anyone noticed that there are no more user's groups. I hadn't. Did anyone notice that there are no more developers? That I noticed.

At the same time, with Tim Paustian's help, we're getting close with the Mac OS X "carbonized" version of Frontier. Wouldn't it be interesting if we shipped a beta on the same day that Apple shipped the beta of Mac OS X? Isn't it interesting how the perception is still that there's no new development for Mac, when the reality is that there is?

Look at how the Mac OS X Weblog talks about Frontier, as if apologizing to the people who read the site that they like our software and think it's cool. I wonder how many Mac users know about Manila? Wouldn't it be great if Apple were proud of what we did with their platform? (BTW, Frontier for Mac OS X supports SOAP 1.1, client and server. Even if you don't think serving hundreds of easy to use, browser-based content-managed websites from a single Mac is cool, think of the strategic options that are opened by having your system participate in the network being built by all the big e-commerce technology vendors.)

Airbag conferences Permanent link to this item in the archive.

I asked some friends if there are any shows that are leading edge and exciting like the West Coast Computer Faire was in the early 80s, or MacWorld Expo in the mid-80s. A show where there are 20 new ideas, and when it's over you can't wait for the next one. Can there really be no exciting shows like that?

Another way of asking the same question. Is it all about money now? I asked Lance Knobel who did the program last year at Davos if we could do an adult developer conference, one where there's some heat on stage. He asks if the market for tech conferences is over-crowded. I don't think there are many technology conferences. I see lots of airbag conferences. And pyramid scheme conferences.

Tim Bray has something to say about airbag conferences.

Micah Alpern says that MacHack is not an airbag conference. It's true, even though it has a little company-townness to it, or at least it did when I spoke there in 1997.

http://www.airbag.com/ takes you to a suitably vaccuous site.

And believe it or not there was an Airbag Conference, in Germany in 1998.

The issue with O'Reilly Permanent link to this item in the archive.

Offlist I'm emailing with Tim O'Reilly. He says we should run a survey asking who's more popular. So here's the survey. Who do you like better, me or Tim O'Reilly? BTW, in yesterday's popularity contest, Jimmy Carter was the overwhelming choice for President of the last generation whose values most match yours. I feel good about that, because he was my choice too. Even though, when he was president I hated him. Go figure. (The same thing happened with Harry Truman.)

BTW, if I ran a conference I probably wouldn't like it if people called it captive. But if I ran a software company I know I wouldn't like it if people called us closed or proprietary. I'm just giving the shoe another foot to be on. The other day I went out of my way to tiptoe around the central issue I have with O'Reilly, and took a direct uncensored shot at Microsoft. As usual, the conversation with Microsoft continues, in fact there are people at Microsoft who agree with me.

We're still at Defcon 1 with O'Reilly. My request to O'Reilly is that they ease up on me. I will continue to say what I think. They're a big company with a highly visible leader. They're big enough and important enough that they will be criticized. It's possible that I'm the first to do this, it sure feels that way from the reaction I get from the O'Reilly people. But as your company grows, more people will have more to say about it. Some people think that's a good thing, I happen to be one of them. BTW, my company gets a lot of criticism. I know it can be hard to listen. But I try, the best I can, and even point to my critics, when it's not too uncomfortable.

So dear readers, it's time to stop tiptoeing around the central issue with O'Reilly. I wrote a review of their "RSS 1.0" proposal on Saturday. The case is pretty clearly stated there. Imho, they want to take RSS in a direction that's counter to the goals of RSS. The last thing I wanted was an argument over this. I want to be able to continue to say that we designed RSS jointly with Netscape. That RSS is the continuation of scriptingNews format, first deployed by UserLand in December 1997 and joined with RSS in July 1999.

The proposed syndication format takes a new direction. It should have a new name. Then there's no problem. Further, a new format is not bad or good. If there's a suitable new name, and if it gains traction, we'll support it, as we would any Web syndication format that has content support.

With Microsoft, the issue of whether SOAP would be called XML-RPC never came up. Both SOAP and XML-RPC co-exist, there's no confusion, and both have a chance to succeed or fail independent of each other. When it came time to ship SOAP 1.1, even though it's a compromise design, imho, XML-RPC is closer to what I wanted, I put my name on it because it's a milestone in cooperative design, and one which I am proud to have participated in.

Now, the trail of syndication technology is being obfuscated, the low-tech simple approach will not get a chance, if O'Reilly et al succeed in redefining what RSS is. That, simply, is my concern and objection.

The GPL "poison pill" Permanent link to this item in the archive.

On Tuesday, I talked about the "poison pill" in the GPL.

It's funny, when I went to look for it yesterday, I couldn't find it!

What changed?

Permanent link to archive for Wednesday, August 30, 2000. Wednesday, August 30, 2000

WorldLink: What if Amazon Fails? 

Salon: "The key to making money from online content is getting yourself bought by Microsoft (or an equally deep-pocketed competitor like America Online)." 

Research Disclosure is a "defensive-type publication serving the scientific and patent communities worldwide. The journal is published every month and contains abstracts describing new discoveries or inventions. The pages of the journal are available to companies who, due to the special nature of an invention, seek a low cost alternative, or supplement, to obtaining patents and require prompt publication whilst maintaining freedom for their own use of that invention." 

Don Hopkins takes on the Adobe patents. "When I was working on the NeWS user interface for UniPress Emacs during the summer of 88, I implemented tabbed window frames. It was the first version of Emacs that supported multiple windows, and all those windows were really getting out of hand (you could open every .h file in a directory with a few keystrokes), so we really needed a good way to manage lots of windows opened at once!" 

Joel Spolsky: Open Blueprint Companies. "By the end of the day, I was soaked. But this time I could rewrite the compensation policy from scratch based on everything I had learned." 

Last night's session Permanent link to this item in the archive.

Lots of great talk at last night's F2F chat session.

Here's a survey we did.

I didn't know that David Biedny was raised in South America. I also didn't know that Venezuela has a communist president.

Andrew Wooldridge says his favorite feature in Radio UserLand is Update Radio.root.

The open source conversation continued. There were some developers from the East Bay, I'm so bad with names, but they came from Transvirtual, and make embeddable Linux and Java.

We're learning how to talk with each other, where the sensitive points are, and seeing how much we have in common. My hope is that we can cut through the labels we put on each other and see each other as developers. There are lots of ways to divide us, but we're more powerful if we look at ways we can join, and help each other, and make cool software, and most important to me, make each others' software better.

Napster at Seybold Permanent link to this item in the archive.

Good morning! Rise and shine.

Yesterday was nothing like I thought it would be.

The Napster session was professional, thoughtful, and I think quite interesting and useful. I thought the Seybold people would be up in arms over Napster, in the same way they didn't like the Web in the mid-90s. At that time, I was the outsider, bringing them the bad tidings. "The Web is going to change everything you do," I would say. And they would say "We don't think so." And sometimes the voices would raise and the so would the tempers.

So why didn't we go through the same experience yesterday when discussing music on the Internet? Well, one theory is that this is about someone else's intellectual property, not theirs, so what's there to worry about? However, if that was true, we wouldn't have covered all the bases, and we did cover them all.

So here's what I think. The Web changed the publishing industry. All the stuff I write is on the Web, and if you write for a newspaper or magazine, all yours is too. The business model of the Web, which caused all the trouble in the mid-90s is still undecided. Ads on Web pages don't make enough money to support all the editorial processes used in creating a pub. But if you're in the publishing industry and you haven't come to grips with this, you're probably not in the publishing industry anymore.

One comment from an editor of the Christian Science Monitor, whose name I didn't catch, was particularly poignant. He talked about the model for the newspaper of the future revolving around (what I call) amateur journalism. The power is with the authors now, and they will only get more powerful in the future, he argued. This is a dramatic change in pov from a few years ago. Even I, the radical in Seybold-space, wanted to temper that. People still want to know who said that. I explained what weblogs are, an Epinions user spoke, and we came to an agreement. Music will go the same way as print has. Dead trees and CDs are the old way. There's a new way coming. How will it work? We don't know.

A father of a fourteen-year-old said the teens think they will get all their music for free. I said that may change as they get older, or it may not. Certainly our parents didn't think the world we were creating would work. We marched on Washington, many of us refused to fight in Vietnam, we didn't like the president and we said so. We had birth control, so we could have sex without having children. All these things stripped the gears of our parents' generation.

So, following that pattern, how the music industry of the future will work, and the publishing industry of the future, will not be our problem, it will be theirs.

BTW, the great thing about music at these conferences is that the AV guys get involved in the discussion. They're all musicians!

Permanent link to archive for Tuesday, August 29, 2000. Tuesday, August 29, 2000

Today: Mind Bombs for Y2K. 7PM, Room 102, Moscone, 747 Howard Street, San Francisco, CA.  

Drinks and tapas at the Thirsty Bear following. 

Moving forward, anyway Permanent link to this item in the archive.

I had a dream about Cameron Barrett last night. He followed me everywhere I went, insulted by everything I did. I bend down to tie my shoelaces. He whines. I call a cab. He whines. I make a cup of coffee. He whines.

Here's the deal, whenever you move, whenever there's a change, someone wants you to stay right where you are. It annoys me because a part of me agrees with him. "See I told you!" my subconscious says. Another inner voice sighs. "We're going to move anyway."

To Cam and others who don't want me to change, sorry, control your own space. We're going forward.

Rock and roll Permanent link to this item in the archive.

Things are really rockin over on the discussion group.

Something shifted yesterday, I have a hard time putting my finger on why. I think it's that people are listening to each other. Finally. I said yesterday "I don't think we've been doing a lot of listening for the last few years."

Brett Glass keeps bringing the discussion back to the evils of Richard Stallman and the GPL. I think it's more complicated. I couldn't support the GPL for MacBird because it's a poison pill for a person such as myself who makes a mixture of commercial and open source software. When I give away code, I want to give it away with no strings attached, for me or for anyone else. And when I put a price on software that's because I want to be paid for it. I've always done both open source and commercial software. To me it's an honor to get paid for something I create. I'm like a musical artist that way.

Then the subject swung around to why the open source "movement" gained traction. For some reason this discussion happened off the DG in email. I'd like to give my thoughts some public air.

Stallman's popularity is a result of what Microsoft did when the Web became a juggernaut. They attacked. Everything was a threat to Microsoft. They attacked relentlessly. They forced a choice. Become a captive Microsoft developer, or.. or what?

Developers legitimately wanted WORA. Microsoft thwarted them. This was their mistake, focusing on Sun, and blowing off the developers. I expected Gates to get this, but he didn't. They call him a "developer's developer." Bullshit. Now MS is left with developers who are such pussies they could overlook MS's "company town" attitude about developers. The ones with balls went to Java, or open source, or are drifting around aimlessly waiting for the industry to restart.

So don't say Stallman created this mess. No one would have cared if Microsoft hadn't forced a decision. If they had been more relaxed about the Web, let Netscape drift, and stay on the side of developers, Microsoft would have cleaned up and we wouldn't be talking about Stallman or open source now. My opinion of course. (And this isn't just good hindsight, it's what I begged Microsoft to do, publicly, starting in 1995.)

Talking with Paul Everitt yesterday, the Zope guy, I said "We've acknowledged open source, now it's time to have balance." Let's have the open source developers acknowledge that it's a multi-colored world, that there are Macs and Windows and Linux, and open source and commercial software, and all levels of quality therein.

Now, a lot of open source developers wonder what the big deal is. "We already acknowledge you," they say. They are our friends, and they tell us that most open source developers agree. That's cool! But the PR noise about open source is not in agreement with this message, and the users, press, and investors hear the PR message, and you wouldn't believe the kind of pressure it puts on us. When the initial rush of hype about open source came a couple of years ago, while all the PR leaders were basking in the glory, we were getting decimated. For us it was esp bitter, it came just as we were turning Frontier into a commercial product after having given it away for years, we were trying to get onto solid ground. Had we not been able to do this, there would be no Manila, no XML-RPC, probably no SOAP or RSS either. Or Radio UserLand, or the World Outline, or whatever else we come up with next. The open source hype made it much harder than it had to be.

BTW, to the open source developers, all our innovations are without patents. We've been blazing new trails on a regular basis for the last few years, esp in the last few weeks, and documenting our work. Anyone who files patents in these areas, and you can be sure that's happening now, will find a trail of prior art blocking their greed.

During the heat of the open source hype, every day our users would tell us Eric Raymond's bullshit about our intentions. They would demand that we release our source code, as if that had anything to do with getting them what they wanted. We were undermined. At the same time Bill Gates was fueling the fire by picking on Java developers, undermining them as we were being undermined by the open source PR. The opportunists on the open source side continued to hurl bricks at all commercial developers, as if we were all self-centered bastards like Gates. I'm sure they knew better, but it worked for them. Meanwhile open source developers, people much like ourselves, ignored the hype, but we couldn't. It was so in our face it couldn't be ignored.

Now, I've tried to be an official open source developer. I gave away a beautiful program that would help the Linux guys compete with the Mac. It's gone nowhere. The leaders want to take the shortcut, instead of linking up with the Mac, they want to erase it. These are not our friends. They do unfriendly Bill Gates-like things. Well fuck that shit. Let's create a programmer's club, and let's help each other.

And to Bill Gates, I'm totally happy to meet to talk with you too. Let's get the software industry going again. It'll be good for all of us. I'm willing to do my part, but you have to do yours. You hurt all of us by attacking the Web so viciously. The right thing to do is to repair the damage you caused.

End of rant, for now.

On O'Reilly Permanent link to this item in the archive.

I've been very hard on O'Reilly. I didn't realize how hard.

Re-reading my message to Brian Behlendorf, I see it differently from how I saw it then.

A statement of friendship must not have any bitterness in it.

I also understand that O'Reilly is a high-quality company. And they have their own point of view, which is certainly a valid one.

I had similar trouble with Apple, and eventually came to understand their point of view. (They hated the Web because it undermined everything they stood for. I didn't understand this, while I was saying publicly that they didn't get the Web, they did get the Web, they just didn't like it!)

Apple also controlled the Macintosh developer community. This was a choice of Apple's and the Macintosh developer community. So when I say O'Reilly is running a captive developer community, the same applies. You have to be a friend of O'Reilly's to speak at their developer conference. I am not a friend of O'Reilly's. And the developers who attend the conference must know that, even if not at a conscious level. Their conference works, and will continue to work, whether or not dissenting views are embraced.

I have wanted to be a friend of O'Reilly's, because we stand for many of the same things. First and foremost is technical excellence. That's also, by the way, the bond we have with Microsoft. Even though they play a piggish game with the rest of the industry, underneath it, there's a twinkle in the eye of Microsoft's technical culture. O'Reilly has that twinkle too.

Tim has also personally come out against software patents, but the follow-through has been unsatisfying, given the urgent and escalating threat to intellectual freedom for software developers. Open source does not trump patents. The freeze in MP3-related technology is not just coming from music industry, it's also coming from a patent held by a German company who is ruthlessly enforcing it.

Like Apple, O'Reilly plays a pretty nasty game, on a personal level. However I'm sure some of this is a response to the criticism of O'Reilly that I've posted here and elsewhere. Tim has told me as much. Even so, had they included our work in their show, they would have found that I give a professional presentation, and am open to other points of view, and don't force mine on others. I think Tim even knows this, he was delighted at the Web Apps presentation we did at Esther's. It's a shame we didn't do a repeat performance at the Open Source Convention, and also talk about how XML-RPC, SOAP and RSS can benefit open source developers. A missed, perhaps once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, imho. Y2K is the year that these technologies make it or don't. How much more powerful we'd all be if we could present all ideas, without fear. But we're not ready for that yet, clearly.

And that's a great note to end my writing for the day. Today I'm going to lead two discussions. The first is on Napster. If you think the heat between open source and commercial developers is strong, it's nothing compared to the fire between Napster users and people who hate Napster. I'm walking right into the middle of this today. I have a very nervous feeling in my stomach!

Somehow I'll probably survive. I'm going to remember to breathe. And remember that nothing is as serious as we sometimes think it is.

"It's even worse than it appears."

Permanent link to archive for Monday, August 28, 2000. Monday, August 28, 2000

Best wishes to Ric Ford and family. Ric runs MacInTouch, the authoritative Macintosh weblog. According to the site, "There has been a death in our immediate family, which has prevented us from maintaining regular updates over the past few days. We'll attempt to update the page on a semi-regular basis this week, and we appreciate your patience and understanding during this time." 

David Brown: "The problem with Communism was that there wasn't any money in it." After posting this pithy comment, David also joined the Leading Users Club. Coool! 

This has got to be one of the strangest screen shots ever. I got my wish, now Radio UserLand/Win is an HTML browser. The background of the MDI window is the screen. The URL points wherever you want, including into the HTTP server that's built into Radio UserLand. Exactly where will we go with this? I don't know. Is it a Mind Bomb? Yes it is! I am now glad that I put the picture of TBL next to James Kirk in that pic. I'm going to need a lot of help figuring this out. (I bet Mike will have some ideas.) 

Ooops, I just leaked.  

Matthew Barger is working with Andrew Wooldridge on a Radio UserLand node for Mozilla. The project is called Lute. I'm not sure exactly what it does. Must be a mind bomb. I'll let you know when I figure it out. 

I had a great phone talk this morning with Paul Everitt at Digital Creations, the leader of the Zope community. We both want to write using Radio UserLand for each others' servers. I want to do a weblog on a Zope server, and Paul wants to do one on a Manila server. We call this project "Golden Spike", we've wanted to connect our worlds for a long time, now it seems closer than it's ever been. 

Salon: Four Little Words. "It was very sinister at its root," says former Eagles leader Don Henley. "We never should have had to go through this. But the RIAA thought they had enough clout in Congress to make it stick. And they almost did."  

WSJ: "Mr. Pool's case is a dramatic example of a controversial new type of patent involving 'business methods.' Such patents, which cover a business process rather than a physical invention or a software program, leapt in popularity after a 1998 federal appeals-court ruling upheld their validity. The fastest-growing category of these patents involves the Internet, as companies race to get a lock on nearly every type of supposed innovation. Amazon.com Inc., for example, has patented 'one-click' shopping, and has successfully sued to keep archrival Barnes & Noble.com Inc. from using it." 

NY Times: "In a new report, the group, known as the President's Information Technology Advisory Committee, will recommend that the federal government back 'open source software as an alternate path for software development,' according to a draft copy of the report, which will be sent to the White House and published in a matter of weeks." Tucker Goodrich points out that the US government has been using open source for decades. He says "This is a great example of a reporter with no context or grasp of history." 

Permanent link to archive for Sunday, August 27, 2000. Sunday, August 27, 2000

DaveNet: Michegas

Doc asks if there's a beer event planned for Tuesday. I'm glad Doc will be there. Maybe he'll bring Eric Raymond and we can talk about Mac users and developers being doooomed. I'm sure there will be a few of them at Seybold.  

About the beer, good question. I'm no good at planning these things. There used to be a Chevy's down the street from Moscone. I seem to remember it being torn down. I'd love to go somewhere for dinner and more schmoozing after talking about the Y2K Mind Bombs. Does someone have an idea? I'm open source on this. Easy to please. 

NY Times: "We have seen no bears around here, largely because of a busy road and horses and dogs and an electric fence. That does not keep the bees from being bear-wary in their ancestral way." 

Wired: Dot-Commers go home! 

Matt Wilson and Andrew Wooldridge join the Leading Users list in my directory. Blades of grass poppin through the fertile ground. We're figuring this out as we go along. That's the best way to go, imho. 

With apologies to Jakob Nielsen I thought this award he was given was pretty funny. Not sure I'd like to get one, but on the hand, maybe I would. Jeff Bezos was an early honoree, as was William Shatner and Lars Ulrich

You get what you pay for Permanent link to this item in the archive.

Dan Bricklin: The Software Police vs the CD Lawyers. "Look at who the recording industry is suing. Not the people who actually want the different use. Rather they are suing the companies that are trying to figure out how to get those users what they want."

To Dan, we could teach them a thing or two for sure, but Dan, they could help us out too. At least in the music industry they let their artists stay artists. In our industry we have to become CEOs and CTOs. I think we both know, we aren't at heart those things. (To everyone else, Dan's first company was called Software Arts.)

Another thing they could help with is giving us the courage to once again charge for our software. Trellix is, as far as I know, free. To me, this is sick. It cost money to make the software. Why don't people want to pay for it? Is anyone making anything comparable? People ask me why outliners went away. I think this is why. Somewhere the idea got out there that they could have as much software as they want for free. I'm listening to BB King singing The Thrill ls Gone. "You'll be sorry someday." To users who think software should be free, where did all the outliners go? Ultimately you get what you pay for. Think about it.

Now that's pretty close to what the music industry is saying. See the connection? Even open source leaders see the wisdom of paying for music. Gotcha. Now maybe they'll show some flexibility and understand that, esp with user-oriented software, there must be a dollar value and competitive markets and user choice. In a way we've been living in the Dark Ages the music industry predicts. As in Atlas Shrugged, the people who we call thinkers are actually people who destroy thought.

Now if the open source leaders want to help rebuild, and undo the damage they caused, they can start doing some of the thinking they're so famous for, and help us rebuild an economy where people are rewarded financially for hitting the sweet spot with users. Think about what open source can and can't do, trust me Eazel is a long way from matching the Mac and Windows, so get out of the way of people who want to give the users what they want.

PS: If you don't get out of the way we'll drive right over you.

PPS: And stop dissing the Mac!

Heads up Permanent link to this item in the archive.

This morning a question came up on the Radio UserLand discussion group, and I want to get my response on the record so there will be no misunderstandings later.

The file format used by Radio UserLand will be publicly documented. Others will be allowed to build applications that use the format, whether or not UserLand's software is being used. However the format's name, still to be determined, will be a UserLand trademark, much as the Apache name is protected by the Apache Foundation. This is clearly spelled out in the Apache license, see items 4 and 5.

We were the first to get to this place, I'm sure most people don't even understand what we're doing. But you will, eventually figure it out. And then, if the past is a guide, some wiseass, or group of wiseasses, will want to take it over. They won't be able to do that.

To me the most important thing is our frredom to move forward. I'm quite disillusioned about the Web as a collaborative development environment. The people who say it's a fair environment are often the most vicious. Watch out for the politician who says "I'm honest." He's appealing to your honesty, not telling you about his. Actions speak louder than words.

I trust the universe, but I know there are pigs out there. Good fences make good neighbors. This is our format, we created it, our tools and servers make it work. We're open to competition, even seek it out, but on fair terms.

So now, while we're still at the starting gate, it's time to make this clear. If you don't like it, compete at a file format level now, or later. We will allow people to make backward-compatible formats, that's clearly a good thing, but we won't allow you to use our goodwill, our copyrighted material, or our trademarks.

Permanent link to archive for Saturday, August 26, 2000. Saturday, August 26, 2000

DaveNet: Mind Bombs for Y2K

Mark your calendar: Tuesday 7PM, Room 102, Moscone, 747 Howard Street, San Francisco, CA. 

Here's the cool thing about HTML directories. They're groupware. I linked to Keola's outline from my outline, and rebuilt my directory, and there's his tree right inside mine. The next step is to get the editor name and email address to be his on pages he's the editor of. Important note, even though in HTML it looks like they're part of the same document, our trees are separate, linked by a URL to an XML file that's read over HTTP. You'll all be users of this someday, I'm sure of it. It's a strange world, as spacy as the Web, imho, in the early days. 

You're all going to love this one. Disney, a member of the MPAA, operates a search engine. It links to lots of DeCSS sources. What's their excuse? 

David Brown posts another in a series of screen shots as progress reports. 

O'Reilly Network publisher Dale Dougherty talks with "some of the core developers behind the new spec for RSS 1.0 about the background behind RDF, the need for a standard, and what RSS enables."  

Here are my comments posted after listening to the O'Reilly radio show. 

David McCusker: "It stinks whenever a group says, 'Our way or the highway!'"  

We got Slashdotted yesterday, which is interesting, because the page they pointed to was on one of our dynamic servers. It held up really well. Then looking at the rankings for yesterday, it took a normally inactive site to number three in the Top 100. What's interesting to me is that it didn't take it to the #1 spot. I thought Slashdotting would swamp us with hits, but not so. 

Dave Luebbert is using Radio UserLand's HTML directory feature on his website. 

Call for creative input. "We need a three or four character file extension for outlineDocuments, so they can be differentiated from other kinds of XML files that we may want to upstream and otherwise process with Radio UserLand." 

Also, it would be great if someone from this community could evaluate yesterday's mind bomb from MIT. Does it really work? How would we integrate it with Radio UserLand? Even if their approach is imperfect, just having something to interface with would help us finish up a bunch of the loose-ends in Radio UserLand, esp in the right-click menu for songs and on ourfavoritesongs.com

Tim O'Reilly comments on the base64 question. He says it is open source. Thanks for helping move the discussion forward.  

Edd Dumbill updated XML-RPC for PHP.  

Financial Times: "Leading Dutch newspapers yesterday failed to prevent an online news service from providing direct links to articles on newspaper websites, in a legal ruling that helps define the limits of internet copyright." 

NY Times: No words capture the fear. "The situation was deteriorating badly. None of the landing wheels could descend. We would need to fly around in circles at a low altitude, the pilot explained, to burn up most of the fuel so that the plane would not catch fire when we landed on its metal belly." 

MacWEEK: "Open-source advocate Eric S. Raymond, went as far as to describe the Mac platform as 'a noble but doomed cause.'" Of absolutely no significance whatsoever. 

A special survey for Unix geeks. 

Permanent link to archive for Friday, August 25, 2000. Friday, August 25, 2000

Another problem for Time-Warner Permanent link to this item in the archive.

DaveNet: Time-Warner steps in it, again.

DaveNet: CNN drops the link.

Ryan Tate has the story at Upside. Apparently other reporters are working on it too. The system is working!

CNN took the link down, at 3:15PM Pacific. Here's a screen shot, with the link and its value clearly visible.

And a screen shot of the full browser window so there can be no doubt which page the link was on.

Thanks to Ravi Nanavati for the pointers.

Today's Mind Bomb from MIT Permanent link to this item in the archive.

Tuneprint: "World domination through audio fingerprints."

Is it open source? Permanent link to this item in the archive.

DaveNet: Open source is bigger?

A story that raises an interesting question, perhaps.

In April 1997 I needed handle-based C code to do base64 encoding and decoding. I looked around the net and didn't find what I needed. So I created the code, using the stuff I found as a starting point. I tested it to be sure it interoperated with previous implementations.

Then I released the source code. No license agreement. Also no restrictions on what anyone could do with it. Now here's the question. Is this open source?

Survey: Open source or not?

HTML Directories Permanent link to this item in the archive.

A new Radio UserLand feature shipped Thursday night. HTML directories. This apparently small feature has the potential to route around centralized Web directories such as Yahoo and DMOZ.

It does this by decentralizing, giving the power to create and join directories to the people of the Internet.

Now the big question is, do they want this power? Evangelism will be a big part of this. Let the evangelism begin!

If you do a directory, as I have, send me a pointer and I'll see where I can link it in. There's a lot of room at the top level, and since I'm using an outliner, it's really easy to reorganize.

ZopeFish progress Permanent link to this item in the archive.

David Brown reports on progress in connecting Radio UserLand and Zope. He's bringing Zope culture into RU instead of trying to make Zope behave like Manila.

This is totally the right way to do it. I don't want to write for a narrow corner of Zope, I want its real personality to show up in my writing space.

Tom Kicks Butt Permanent link to this item in the archive.

Tom Fuerstner and Arne Graesser decided to connect the Palm Pilot to a Manila site.

Here's a message he posted from his Palm.

Most excellent!

Open source discussion continues Permanent link to this item in the archive.

Doc Searls explores open source with Craig Burton. As usual, he adds a few twists and delicious food for thought.

I had a long phone talk with Eric Kidd this morning. I thought I was ready to write my What Is Open Source? piece, but now I want to do some more thinking and talk with more people. There are some things I didn't consider well enough. It'll be worth the wait, imho.

Tim O'Reilly Permanent link to this item in the archive.

Thanks to Queso for the pointer to Tim O'Reilly's response to my note about their investment in Pyra.

Basically Tim posted a longish email he sent to me. Here was my response. My point of view hasn't shifted much in the last few days.

BTW, it's nice to see that O'Reilly is still using Manila. I'm sure it is the best software for what they do, and it's my business to make sure that it stays that way.

Permanent link to archive for Thursday, August 24, 2000. Thursday, August 24, 2000

An important linkup Permanent link to this item in the archive.

Radio: How to Edit Manila Sites with Radio UserLand.

David Davies is overwhelmed with this feature. I was sure he would be. When I first used it yesterday I told Brent I hadn't been as excited by a demo since using VisiCalc for the first time in 1979. Double-clicking on a discussion group heading and seeing all those cowskulls made me giddy. It's the kind of experience I live for.

I think it flustered Brent, to be the channeler of such god-like power. I said this about Bricklin and Frankston too, the Mind Of God does the work, the product designs itself, at best we get to serve Him. How do you get there, do a lot of hard work, breathe, and listen listen listen. Listen to what the product tells you. Sometimes, if you're really good at listening, you can hear it speak. Do what it says and shut up.

Music on the Internet, a developing story Permanent link to this item in the archive.

Now you may ask what does editing Manila sites in an outliner have to do with music on the Internet? Where do you think the fan sites are going to live? I'm already playing my music in Radio. Make the website come to me, I say.

BTW, remember the right-click menus from Saturday? Remember the first few commands in the popup menu for songs? See how they link up to community features. That's the other side of the connection. UserLand has all this great publishing, writing, organizing power. Music is the catalyst.

So, what does the Internet add to music?

"It's the community dummy!"

Yeah it's a developing story, but the theme remains constant.

The Next Mind Bomb Permanent link to this item in the archive.

I just saw a screen shot of the next Radio UserLand Mind Bomb. (R.U.M.B.)

This one will complete a loop, when it works, for Windows users (only, won't work on Macs) the whole World Wide Web will run inside a single application.

And people say the MDI window is a hack.


(I'm such a tease.)

And to Microsoft people, it will prove in another way that the Web browser belongs in the operating system.

Who and where are the open source developers? Permanent link to this item in the archive.

More great posts overnight. Highlights. Patrick Connors, a musician who also makes software, says that you gotta pay for his presence, and that making his work palatable for non-creative people is the hardest part. Eric Kidd provides links to open source weblogs, and notes that most of the discussion is technical, not political. Raph Levien, who kind of ripped me a new asshole and then wrote a thoughtful survey of open source philosophy is the founder of Advogato, a famous weblog loved by many open source developers. Since we're in horn-tooting mode, I toot for three open source developers who run highly useful sites on UserLand servers. Paul Merrell says that his experience with open source dates back to the PDP-8 and that commercial software is a relatively recent phenomenon. Seth Gordon explains why big Office users might realistically switch to Star Office.

Brilliant! Permanent link to this item in the archive.

Bookmark this summary of the myriad of open source licenses as told by Ken MacLeod.

Gina Permanent link to this item in the archive.

Business 2.0: Gina, Inc. Gina is one of "our girls". We basically grew up in the industry together. A lot of my friends are quoted in the piece. I'm glad she's doing so well. Go go go Gina!!

PS: I'm sure she didn't sleep with Larry Ellison to get the job.

Cam Permanent link to this item in the archive.

Cameron Barrett points to three messages I posted as evidence of what a rude person I can be. It just shows what a different point of view is all about. I re-read those messages and thought it was some of the best writing I've done, because I wrote it from a place where I totally didn't care what other people thought. I told you what I think. To me that's freedom, and that's where fun comes from. Big difference. If you spend all your time trying to figure out what other people want you to say you're playing the gatekeeper game. Just be yourself, that's the best way to go.

An example, Cam doesn't like me to use terms like "barking, farting chihuahuas." I got a really great compliment on that from David McCusker. It strikes a note. We are all insignficant dogs that make a lot of noise (or appear to) and we smell pretty strong if you get too close. So what. If you think your shit doesn't stink, I recommend getting a second opinion.

"My opinion, we're all barking farting chihuahaus, with incredibly short lifespans occupying an insignificant part of the universe, pretending what we do is important when it has absolutely no significance."

Tolerance for flames Permanent link to this item in the archive.

Anyway I don't like people taking personal shots at other people in space that I am responsible for. Cam and others make such a big issue of this, but listen, it's not unclear or unreasonable. If you want to ream someone at a personal level, send them an email, or do it on your site. I want to be left out of that loop. However, I don't mind if people are impolite, because that's so subject to taste. Just keep it impersonal or talk about yourself and no feelings get hurt. Also, my tolerance for flames has increased. I'm learning and growing too.

Flames can be funny! Permanent link to this item in the archive.

Here's a flame about me, and I'm pointing to it because the writer put it on his own website. You can never say that I don't enjoy a good flame. I do!

I asked why he says all those nasty things about me on his site and here's what I was told.

Today's song Permanent link to this item in the archive.

Descramble. It's not exactly the highest production-value music, but it's total poetry, perhaps the most revolutionary MP3 yet. Is it a song or software? Talk about convergence.

BTW, I looked, it's not on Napster yet.

More trouble? Permanent link to this item in the archive.

Alta Vista has an MP3 search page. (Screen shot.)

Permanent link to archive for Wednesday, August 23, 2000. Wednesday, August 23, 2000

What is open source? Permanent link to this item in the archive.

DaveNet: Are you an open source developer?

A perfect example of how a gatekeeper takes advantage of open source. Is it open source if it's so heavily politicized or has it become something else? What if you believe in love not war? Can you be an open source developer without endorsing the death penalty for Microsoft? Why do so many agendas have to be attached to acts of simple generosity? Is it OK if your software is used in acts of war?

BTW, thanks for all the great email. A lot of developers want to talk about this stuff for sure. I should have asked the questions a long time ago, but there are people who get angry with me for even asking what open source is. That's their problem, it used to be mine. I wrote a piece yesterday saying I'm going to ask all the questions I want to. Making it personal will only double my resolve to get to the bottom of the issues.

Next question. Did open source software exist before the term was coined?

Brent kicks butt Permanent link to this item in the archive.

I just used Radio UserLand to browse a discussion group for the first time. I saw a message that I wanted to respond to. I right-clicked on it and chose Reply from the popup menu. A window opens. Enter my response. Save. Edit. Save. I don't think it can get much easier than this. Voila. Two-Way-Web.

Also, just to show we have a sense of humor, the default icon for discussion group messages is the cow skull. To the people who don't like it, you can customize it.

The new features, and there are lots of them, will go out through updates to Radio UserLanders later this evening.

After many fruitless hours Permanent link to this item in the archive.

I had to rewrite a tricky bit of code in the cloud to handle larger numbers of files and then forgot how everything was configured, but now I have the basic directory stuff working, and am going to start work on dressing it up visually and adding the rocket science.

Here's the directory for userland.com. I know the URL sucks.

Kind of plain Jane, eh? But here's why it's so cool. It's just an outline, the whole site is rendered in less than a second from one document, that's usable as a bookmarks file on its own. No scaling issues, everyone who edits one of these has their own machine.

There's your P2P equation, it assumes the person using the machine has a mind. Intel should take note. The revolution that started Intel, the personal computer, is the secret. Hey Intel, there's a person out there!

Don Hopkins Permanent link to this item in the archive.

"I'm trying to cause some trouble for Adobe's lawsuit against Macromedia. Turns out I've implemented prior art that invalidates their tab window palette, several times over. I've used tabs for window managers, for UniPress Emacs 2.20 (a commercial product), for a visual PostScript debugging environment, and published a couple of papers about them.

"There is some irony in the Adobe's patent being invalidated by prior art documented in a paper about a visual PostScript debugging environment. Check out this software, which has a PostScript stack holding objects in windows with tabs that you can drag on and off the stack, and manipulate by opening up editable tree views of PostScript data structures."

Morning stories Permanent link to this item in the archive.

Sony exec: "We will develop technology that transcends the individual user. We will firewall Napster at source -- we will block it at your cable company, we will block it at your phone company, we will block it at your ISP. We will firewall it at your PC." Police state.

Not to be outdone by David Brown's Zope-Radio screen shot, Brent Simmons provides a screen shot of Radio UserLand/Mac editing his Manila site and its discussion group. Brent says "When you expand a site, you can edit the home page, messages, various templates, etc. just by double-clicking. Everything is bookmarkable and re-organizable."

On the FoRK list, Lane Becker, president of DeepLeap, says that after announcing they were going to shut down, they're getting offers to be bought! Go go go.

Results from Monday's What is RDF? survey.

The fallacy of wishful thinking Permanent link to this item in the archive.

WSJ: "Mr. Gelsinger, however, argues that people haven’t yet thought of the best uses for P-to-P, likening today’s situation to the moment Marc Andreessen created the first popular Web browser, then called Mosaic. 'Back when Mosaic came out, no one envisioned Yahoo! and eBay,” Mr. Gelsinger said. 'That’s where we are today.'"

Most grand visions turn out otherwise. They said the same things about Push Technology and Java. He hopes someone else figures it out. Usually it doesn't work that way.

BTW, the killer app is music.

"Angry with me" Permanent link to this item in the archive.

Since there are an unusually large number of people reading this site who are "angry with me" at least indicated by emails and posts on the DG, I thought this would be a good time to post an invitation to revisit the TranceFest we had here in July.

It can save a lot of time arguing about who's right, or who's upset, or who means well or not, to recognize that all of us are running different programs, even different operating systems. What you see from your pov, while totally valid, is almost certainly not what I see, which is also totally valid.

If you liked that, here's another TranceFest asking why there are no women in the picture, and some funny stories, and if you poke around you'll find that there's a surprise.

Radio UserLand's first badge Permanent link to this item in the archive.

This site is edited with Radio UserLand, the first personal Web Application server for Windows and Macintosh.

It's also available as a shortcut on any UserLand-hosted Manila site as "radioBadge".

Permanent link to archive for Tuesday, August 22, 2000. Tuesday, August 22, 2000

DaveNet: Squeal with Care. "Today's technology leaders have been fed a steady diet of softballs and puff pieces, so perhaps they can be forgiven for expecting more of the same." 

This evening I learned that O'Reilly invested in Pyra, who makes Blogger, which competes head-on with Manila. While we were working with O'Reilly, at times very intensely, and always for free, they were betting on our competitor. Needless to say this should have been disclosed.  

Joel Spolsky: Three Wrong Ideas from Computer Science

BYTE: What the Heck is SOAP, Anyway? 

Salon: Why Scour is not the new Napster

Evening pointer, David Brown keeps diggin, and now Zope is doing some great tricks with Radio UserLand outlines. I sent an email to Paul Everitt tonight saying this feels like the meeting of the Transcontinental Railroad. It's an exciting day, we've wanted to get to this place for about six months. I think it might be a matter of a few days before I can write for a Zope site. That'll be interesting for sure. 

I'm head-down on the directory stuff. I'm doing the directory for UserLand.Com and as I do it I realize how sorely we need this. I should have something to show tomorrow morning unless Murphy has a problem with that. 

Milt Olin Permanent link to this item in the archive.

I had a long and frank phone talk today with Milt Olin, the COO of Napster. Still digesting it, no conclusions at this time,

I'm working on the directory-building code for Radio UserLand, processing in the background.

MSIE-lookalike Permanent link to this item in the archive.

K-Meleon, a Web browser built from Mozilla source, "tries to mimic the IE MFC interface as much as possible. For convenience, it also uses the IE bookmarking system."

Screen shot.

Sorting out RDF Permanent link to this item in the archive.

David Carter-Tod, a man with a strong mind, asks for help understanding all the terminology in RDF-space.

Paul Snively, a man of many words, explains.

Tim Bray: "All this inference and ontology crap is part of the problem with RDF, not part of the solution. I immodestly claim that the following still is the easiest statement of why anyone should care."

The World Outline Mind Bomb Permanent link to this item in the archive.

Brent Simmons and David Brown have been kicking butt, connecting the World Outline in Radio UserLand up to the Web through Manila and Zope.

David posted a screen shot, which has got people in Radio UserLand tapping their feet wondering wassup.

Brent posted a similar screen shot on our private discussion group, so I can't show it to you yet.

First we linked static outlines, and now they're getting pretty damned dynamic. The difference between what we're doing and what others are doing is that we have an authoring tool. That's going to make the difference between having something that academics appreciate, and something that users can use.

BTW, World Outline Mind Bomb is a pretty good acronym.

David Brown provides the two-sentence roadmap for Radio UserLand, and explains our philosophy as well.

SuperOpenDirectory.Com Permanent link to this item in the archive.

We bought a great domain name yesterday.

People say all the good names are taken.

Wrong. None of the good names are taken.

Permanent link to archive for Monday, August 21, 2000. Monday, August 21, 2000

Lots of news coming in Permanent link to this item in the archive.

On 2600 News, Emmanuel Goldstein posts his personal thoughts on the DeCSS trial. "The kind of honesty you get by having individuals who aren't afraid to express themselves has always been a threat to those who imagine themselves in power. Until recently, the net was the only place where individual opinion actually had a chance. If the media wouldn't tell your story, you could become the media and tell the story yourself. The whole world could be your audience."

The Napster briefing is on the Web, in PDF.

DeepLeap: "It's with a sad heart that we tell you the bad news: Effective Friday, Sept. 1, 2000, Deepleap will be shutting down."

Industry Standard: The Next Piracy Panic, Software.

Jeff Bezos likes Scripting News Permanent link to this item in the archive.

Hey, it's true I didn't expect a response, but I got one. Now, if you ever want to talk about software patents and intellectual freedom for software developers, let's boogie.

Red Herring: The fantasy world of Jeff Bezos. Maybe he shouldn't spend so much time reviewing sites?

Eric Kidd keeps rolling Permanent link to this item in the archive.

Eric Kidd talks about Unix xenophobia, with quotes and examples from Richard Stallman and Miguel de Icaza.

Eric reviews open source agreements.

Eric and I have been exploring what we can write about, the opinions we can express, without getting entangled with slimeballs who try to shut us down. Eric, I think most of the barriers are inside ourselves. The slimey slippery types can't actually stop us from saying what we want to say. Eric man, you're a total inspiration to me. Keep on truckin, and think, if possible, of ways to put names on the silent shadows in your stories. Who's really immune from exposure? No one. Read the First Amendment. Live it. Take it seriously.

Fantastic! Permanent link to this item in the archive.

David Davies has been reading the Radio UserLand XML files and has a dynamic website that shows you who's signed on, and what they're listening to. It's great that people are already developing on the Radio UserLand backend. It bodes well for the future, we haven't even started promoting the formats yet.

Brad Pettit is rendering Radio UserLand playlists with XSL.

RURemote allows you to "set up a remote copy of RU and use it as a streaming mp3 server. With RUremote, you get a playlist from the remote machine, build a queue on your local machine, then send the queue to the remote machine."

Mike Donnelan, a crazy man from Mississippi says about Radio UserLand: "A GUI face-lift could do wonders! Make John & Jane Q. Surfer lust to embrace it's power, without being scared to hold it! The 'engine geeks' mentality still comes to mind when I think of the community surrounding Scripting News... and hey, that's what we are!"

To which I say, help us trash-up the UI of RU! We need help. Jake does bitmaps, but no one does them like you Mike! Help help help. We need help. (You can quote me on that.)

EE Times: OEMs ready to roll on jukeboxes for Net audio.

Next stops on the Radio UserLand tour Permanent link to this item in the archive.

Jake is busy with chat, getting my one-day bridge-build to really work. Brent is connecting Manila to the nodeTypes structure (while David Brown is doing the same for Zope). Andre is working on MP3 streaming.

I'm working on turning Radio UserLand into a tool for building DMOZ and Yahoo-like directories. Not too many people realize how closed these systems are, one uses paid employees, the other uses volunteers, but both have just a single hierarchy and give absolute power to people we don't know, yielding outages galore.

We're going to open that up and let anyone organize any section and let there be lots of trees and let them join each other dynamically. Why should the Web just have two directories? There should be thousands, if not millions. (DMOZ came up in the context of Guha's RDF plans. I wonder if they know how he's using them? We'd work with them, but they have to get neutral on RDF for that to happen.)

One final note, we will not be releasing the Napster client code we developed for Radio UserLand. To us it seems just like another protocol, but to the lawyers, it's special. We're going to watch carefully to see what happens in the courts with Napster's appeal. I hate having lawyers define feature sets for my software, but that's the way it is in Y2K.

But Esther.. Permanent link to this item in the archive.

Esther Dyson: "Yes, it’s wrong to steal, and yes, the music companies have legally binding copyrights. But the reality is that it’s not good business to annoy both your customers and your suppliers -- especially if you’re an intermediary whose added value is questionable."

I sent Esther an email thanking her for the piece, but asking her to look at the equivalent situation in software as an expressive artform. Patents, esp those of Amazon, who she cites as helping the creative process, are the biggest threat to free speech in software. I am optimistic that Esther will hear me. (I cc'd Jeff Bezos on the email to Esther.)

What is RDF? Permanent link to this item in the archive.

Survey: What is RDF?

The Guha mentioned in the survey is RV Guha, former Apple person, responsible for HotSauce, which was Apple's answer to the World Wide Web, circa 1997. He went on to Netscape and Epinions, and boasts of eight patents on his website.

Permanent link to archive for Sunday, August 20, 2000. Sunday, August 20, 2000

Today's Song: The Sound of Music

Eric Kidd posted a history of "Open Source" yesterday.  

Josh Allen posted an eloquent response to Eric saying that histories of the Internet are just stories.  

There are far too many lawyers involved in what people can and can't say on their own websites.  

NY Times: "Software programs like Napster and Gnutella have achieved a reputation for fostering a communal spirit of sharing among millions of music-loving computer users. The reality may be more selfish." 

Jakob Nielsen: Mailing List Usability

Is XML forever doomed? Permanent link to this item in the archive.

My pov: Only programmers comment on XML formats. Designers and writers almost never comment. Therefore all XML formats tend to evolve to please dedicated gutsy XML programmers, and freak out other folk, which imho defeats the purpose of XML, as a low-tech interchange format between applications written by programmers on all platforms, at all skill levels.

One more thing, as a busy programmer, I also appreciate simple formats with simple docs. I read so many specs that I don't have time to understand. Unfortunately for most of the specs, the subtleties come right at the beginning, before I have a chance to get hooked.

A little bird Permanent link to this item in the archive.

A little bird whispered in my ear that Disney and Yahoo are working on a merger. At the same time CNET and Yahoo are pretty close to merger agreement.

Cluetrain and (we)blogs merge too? Permanent link to this item in the archive.

Evan Williams pointed to Doc Searls, a Cluetrain author who uses Manila. Now I'd like to point to Chris Locke, a Cluetrain author who uses Blogger.

I think weblogs are the flipside of the Cluetrain Manifesto. Same philosophy. Empowering everyday people to say what they see. Let the cream rise to the top based on the quality of thinking, not based on whether or not, for some stupid reason, their opinions are "important". (How many idiotic Forrester quotes do you want to read?)

I read Blogger sites and I read Manila sites. (I'd like to think) I read a site independent of what software they use, but I don't always live up to that. That's where I turn to the Cluetrain philosophy. Why should I hold myself back? Why shouldn't I learn from all people who have good ideas?

I got a wonderful email from Chris yesterday. He found Weblogs.Com and discovered that he can ask which weblogs are pointing to him. I hadn't used that feature in a while.

Since he's sure to read this, Chris, also check out the hotlist, the most pointed-to pages in the Weblogs.Com database.

(Ooops, I notice that it hasn't updated since 8/14.)

To people who criticize weblogs, yeah it's a great big circle jerk, and it feels great!

Way down south Permanent link to this item in the archive.

Chris tuned into the tagline on Weblogs.Com, "Way down south in the land of cotton."

If you search for that phrase in Google, a page on Weblogs.Com comes up number two. Not much help.

I was looking for the lyrics to the song.

My bandwidth story Permanent link to this item in the archive.

Yesterday I almost got thrown off the stage at the Bandwidth conference in San Francisco. I could hardly finish a sentence.

Now I can..

DaveNet: My bandwidth story.

It was a total Cluetrain experience.

Permanent link to archive for Saturday, August 19, 2000. Saturday, August 19, 2000

Today's News: Polar Icecap is Melting. "The last time scientists can be certain the pole was awash in water was more than 50 million years ago." 

Today's event: Bandwidth Conference in San Francisco, 435 Broadway. One of our panelists had to cancel, Liz Brooks, VP Marketing at Napster. Too bad, Napster's view of the Fan of the Future is something I wanted to talk about.  

Today's new feature: Right-click Menus in Radio UserLand. I gotta say this. After six years of developing Web apps, what a joy to be working on software that's just for one user. Simpler scaling issues. No race conditions. And HTML, while I love it, isn't nearly as rich or flexible as the UI toolkits on Mac and Windows. 

Another reason it's so much fun, the security issues are so much simpler. There are all kinds of open customizable interfaces in Radio UserLand. You can add your own commands to the right-click menu. We could never do this in a Web app, because of security issues. In general, we don't even allow people to delete things in Web apps, even the commands we use to "delete" things, don't really delete them. 

Disclaimer: The icons in the screen shots on that page are just placeholders. Jake Savin, a musician and programmer, the guy who did them, loves his Mac. Apologies to Apple, we will change the Apple-inspired icons asap. I didn't know Jake was doing this. We move really fast and independently at UserLand. Keep up the great work Jake! 

One more thing, the first few commands in the right-click menu for songs are placeholders too. When you choose them you get an alert that says Not Implemented Yet. We will certainly implement the commands that allow you to comment on a song, and see other comments. (There will be an open architecture for implementing a comment server.) We will also implement a command that helps you find other fans that love the song too. Imagine that, using the Internet to find love. Not a trashy kind of love, but the love that you feel in your heart. 

About the first command in that menu, I hope we can implement that soon as well. It should be clear to all that UserLand supports artists, because we are artists ourselves. We want to be paid, as musicians want to be paid. In our industry it has become fashionable to believe that good software is worthless. What a terrible turn for the creative art of making software. It would be hypocritical for us to support a similar trashing of the value of music. Our users will be reminded that if you love someone else's creativity, you must support it, in meaningful ways. In our society, this is implemented with money. It's pretty simple. Other people, some honest and some not, try to tell us otherwise, but we know better. 

Finally, for today, it warms my heart when Evan Williams points to Doc Searls' weblog. The Web makes us all brothers, imho, even competitors; and sisters too. To Meg, I really liked that you trusted your Mom to edit your home page. I found out she's a geek, and that she loves you. That's so cool! 

The Web is more than HTML and HTTP, it's a philosophy that has integrity. To be of the Web, means being vulnerable. Music is now part of the Web, to our friends who create music, this is something you have to recognize, if you want to create art around what's real. Let's take the next steps, we're all in the same boat, creative people want to be appreciated without being invaded. Let's encourage generosity from users. But first we must trust them. It hurts when people violate our trust, I've experienced it myself, but we have no choice, we must trust people every day. The world wouldn't work without trust. Think about it. 

If you chose to be creative, you also chose to be vulnerable. That means you're going to be hurt. There's no way to avoid it.  

BTW, if you doubt it, remember what happened to John Lennon. Musicians do. All creative people must think about this. No one likes to talk about it for fear of inviting that kind of fan into his or her life. Next time you think about an artist, think about John Lennon for a moment, and appreciate the risks that artists take. 

Today's song: Let It Be. "And when the broken-hearted people living in the world agree, there will be an answer, let it be." 

Permanent link to archive for Friday, August 18, 2000. Friday, August 18, 2000

News.Com: Napster pleads with court for survival. "If the decision of the District Court is permitted to stand, every new technology used to transmit, route, or exchange data subject to the copyright laws using the Internet--and many existing technologies--will be affected," the brief read.  

Red Herring: Lawyers in Napster suit go after deep pockets. "Some lawyers, including one suing Napster, now say that Hummer Winblad could have more than its investment at stake. Because of the quirky nature of copyright law, the possibility of going after Napster's investors may soon be an option for the music companies and recording artists involved." 

Tipster is a "protocol which aspires to enable easy, voluntary payment for digital content such as music." 

Nodetypes Permanent link to this item in the archive.

Here's a screen shot of our newest Radio UserLand framework called nodeTypes. There's a narrative in the rightmost window that explains what's going on. Be sure to expand the window fully, don't miss the narrative, it's key to understanding.

This is the intersection of HTTP, XML and outlines. This is the unification I've been searching for for 20+ years. Everything on the Internet fits into a hierarchic view. Websites, email, chat, buddy lists, music playlists, presentations, script libraries, syndicated Web pubs, discussion groups.

We have a formalization that allows new types to be defined at runtime with user-level overrides. First we're covering all the big standards. Then we'll have a great playground to invent new modes and services.

It seems now that all the hard problems are solved. It's time to sharpen the edges, do a few deep knee-bends, stretch, and then go down the double-diamond slope, with confidence!

Background pointers Permanent link to this item in the archive.

I wrote a backgrounder on nodeTypes for advanced Frontier programmers. Please read it carefully, and please no newbie questions!

Another point not to miss, it's a writing tool too. And through upstreaming, writing for this medium is as easy as using the File menu and the Finder or Explorer. (If you recall, at one point I thought we'd have to change the File menu, but then figured out how to get two-wayness with a standard File menu. That's what upstreaming is about.)

All the XML files it creates are in outlineDocument format. We're discussing a couple of changes in this format with people who are using Radio UserLand. Whatever changes are made, all our software will continue to read the current format, for perpetuity.

I still have to figure out how to link this up with Manila and Zope and other "cloud-level" content management software. I want it to build off users' understanding of the File menu and how the file system works. It almost certainly will involve special sub-folders of the www folder, that route writing to specific Manila or Zope sites through an XML-RPC interface. I also want to teach Radio UserLand how to get to websites, through an outline interface, and through its Bookmarks menu. I write for about a dozen sites. I want to be able to go to "the site" by choosing a bookmark. I'm getting pretty close to figuring this out.

New terminology Permanent link to this item in the archive.

BTW, in writing about the Radio UserLand scenario, I get into trouble when I talk about servers. Since the user's machine is a server, I can't talk about "the server". What's the difference between the server on my machine, running at Exodus; and the server on their machine, running at the end of a DSL line or cable modem, or T1 line or whatever?

So I've taken a clue from AT&T, General Magic and LoudCloud, and I'm calling the common space "the cloud". It's the common space where all our stuff co-exists.

We plan to allow an option where the user chooses not to upstream at all, this might make sense for people with persistent IP addresses and big pipes, who want the full-metal experience of having a workstation that's also serving the public.

But upstreaming is there because at this point, most users would be wise not to open their machines up so fully.

Openness and competition Permanent link to this item in the archive.

BTW, we've reserved the name musiccloud.com. It'll stand alongside ourfavoritesongs.com, and other interlinked music fan communities. We will specify all the formats we use, they're all XML and simple, and easy to support. We don't want an exclusive on operating clouds, we want competition, but we insist that be fair and respectful, as I discuss below.

Other UserLand domains we're going to use for music communities. playingintheband.com and contactthedead.com.

A flawed decision Permanent link to this item in the archive.

About the decision in the DeCSS trial. The judge associates distributing a program that breaks copy protection with political assassination. That's a an extreme and unrealistic point of view.

In the 1980s, when copy protection was common in PC software, there were popular commercial products whose sole purpose was to circumvent copy protection. To a software developer, I'm sure it felt like assassination (I'm very sure about this). But to a user it felt differently.

There are legitimate legal uses of the DeCSS program. How are Linux users supposed to use DVDs? As far as I know the movie industry has not provided a way for people to do that.

Naked emperors Permanent link to this item in the archive.

On the flipside, about open source developers. I'm happy to work with people on a "Let's Share Our Ideas" basis, as long as credit is given. Open source has become a haven for people who, like patent abusers, have no respect for the creative process.

There are naked emperors in our midst. They don't want you to see their nudity, that's why they get upset when I talk about them. They want to do all the talking. Makes sense, because if we look at them we'll see that they talk the talk, but don't walk the walk. (One reason some people want you to release the source code is so that they can claim it as theirs.)

As Woz warns, the new bosses may not be any better than the old. On the other hand, there are good honest people who choose to make open source software. But their leaders are attaching all kinds of selfish "riders" on their work. In their naivete, the hard-working open source developers are contributing to the creation of another hardened fortress that we must route around.

Watch out for middlemen Permanent link to this item in the archive.

So, in software, as in the music business, watch out for middlemen. If a leader doesn't write software, or generate ideas for software, or respect the creative process that leads to software, stop following. You're selling out your brothers and sisters when you do that.

Ask the questions that pop into your mind. Listen to the answers and decide for yourself. Don't believe hype. Trust what you see. If they ship software that you love, respect that. If they talk a lot but don't deliver much, switch stations.

It's possible to be an open source developer with high integrity, I'm sure of that, I know people who do that. But it's not inevitable that all open source developers and middlemen have high integrity. Sorry, I didn't make the world that way, I wish it were otherwise. It can hurt to trust integrity that's not there. It's best to trust your gut, and ask questions and listen to the answers and use your mind.

Permanent link to archive for Thursday, August 17, 2000. Thursday, August 17, 2000

DaveNet: Dionne

AP: Movie Industry Backed in DVD Trial. "Computer code is not purely expressive any more than the assassination of a political figure is purely a political statement,'' Kaplan said. 

Atlantic Monthly: The Heavenly Jukebox

It's nice to see that eBay users have a sense of humor or are extremely entrepreneurial. Given the choices in this year's presidential race, it seems pretty rational to offer you vote to the highest bidder.  

Today's song: The Long And Winding Road

Salon: To hell with hubris. "Priceline.com CEO Jay Walker has built a business around the 300 patents that he's been awarded or is expecting, demanding that we ignore the fact that most of his 'inventions' are nothing more than traditional money-making schemes with a dot-com twist. 'Expert-based commerce' is novel and unobvious? Tell that to my local hardware store owner, who's a licensed contractor." Amen. 

News.Com: Jeff Bezos wants your help. Tell him to shove it up his ass. BTW, have you noticed how the categories in News.Com comment feature are all very corporate. How about a few artistic titles? I commented on this piece using my stage name. My title, this time, is Group Director of Architecture. Has a nice ring to it don't you think? 

Hey I had a great idea. Jeff Bezos is a smart guy. I always like to get advice from smart people, so I sent him an email asking for his help with my site. He's a community oriented person. Let's get him to help us with our sites! 

New feature: How to send email in Radio UserLand. "When you're browsing the user list, you may find you have something to say to a person that's quick and simple, and it would be too much trouble to start a chat, or bring your emailer to the front. So we made it really easy for you to send a quick email message to another Radio UserLand user." 

New feature: How news feeds work in Radio UserLand. "Now we can bring the wealth of information available through RSS to people who browse and write with the outliner." 

Matthew Barger is using the GNOME icons in Radio UserLand. 

Robert Woodhead: Tipping

Looks like Inprise really stepped in it when they opensourced Interbase. 

Katie Hafner: In Praise of the Mom-and-Pop ISP. "My milk comes from a local dairy, and my Internet connection comes from a small company in Santa Rosa, Calif., called Sonoma Interconnect, or Sonic. Few people outside Sonoma County have heard of it." 

Josh Hoover sent a pointer to a post from Steve Hindalong, drummer for The Choir.  

New.Com: Banking on the need for weed. "We had a coffee moment one day where we realized that our contemporaries are basically the biggest wealth-generating generation of all time and they're all tokers," said Freccia, 35.  

Great publicity for Alan Deutschman's upcoming Steve Jobs book. Nothing like a little controversy to create interest.  

The Register: Hertzfeld spills all about Eazel

Eric Kidd takes us on a tour of Nautilus, which is Eazel's desktop for Linux. (Eric's post already has 1400 reads at 7:30AM. He's the master flow-builder. Totally in awe.) 

Reading Eric's description, and the Register article, it's becoming clearer what Nautilus is, and at the same time it's clearer what we're doing with Radio UserLand. They seem pretty close. A difference, we're bringing the power of the Internet, as a browsable editable hierarchy, to Windows and Mac users. At least for now, they're focusing on Unix users. Eazel probably does icons better. (Although we have users who can do icons, hint hint.) We do outliners pretty well. And we have an object database running behind it all, which is a important but largely secret ingredient. I'm sure they have some stuff we don't. (Yes, they're open source too, thanks for pointing that out. I love that this medium is so interactive, even at 4AM. My opinion, that and 50 cents won't get you on the subway anymore.) 

One thing they will have is tight integration with the filesystem browser, because they *are* the filesystem browser. At one point I considered taking Radio in that direction, but punted. It's a lot of work, for not much gain, because people generally prefer to use the filesystem browser that comes with the OS. That's what Microsoft and Apple do, and Eazel. (Does Eazel have competition?) 

The icon-capable version of Radio UserLand for the Mac is released. Brent works late. I started early today. 

Dan Gillmor: "It's hard to argue with the customer,'' Dell said dryly. "Generally that's not a good idea.'' 

The Register has another Hertzfeld article

On a mail list earlier today someone said we don't know that we exist, but that's the one thing that is not a mystery. Everything else, of course, *is* a mystery. Now I discover that unbeknownst to me, this exact topic is being discussed right here at UserLand. 

I gave myself a lot of grief for revealing personal feelings on this site yesterday. "People don't come here for that," I said to myself. Wrong. Some complain about me doing that, that's for sure, and some tell me to stop, but they keep coming back. If I were to always paint a pretty picture like "Everything's always great!" then you might as well watch TV, the production values are better. The interesting thing about a weblog is that a little humanity might slip through. Ooops, they caught me being human. Shit happens.  

No pain, no gain. 

Permanent link to archive for Wednesday, August 16, 2000. Wednesday, August 16, 2000

Trawling around My.UserLand Permanent link to this item in the archive.

I'm building an upstream file for RSS people, browsing My.UserLand and finding lots of new channels.

I found a channel for Xerox PARC, the place where GUIs were developed in the 1970s.

Paul Nakada submitted several channels that were queries on Yahoo, including one for SOAP, one for UserLand and XML.

I am inspired by Black Hole Brain in a whole new way.

So what was the purpose of all this trawling? To see how RSS integrates with the World Outline concept. It works pretty well.

Then Brent released the new app with the color icons, it looks a lot nicer with a bit of color. BTW, it loads the icons from a folder, so users can change the icons easily. Please do!

Doc at LinuxWorld Permanent link to this item in the archive.

Doc Searls: "Eazel is a Finder. It fills the same role for Linux that the Finder has for Apple since Andy wrote it back in the late Pleistocene and Susan gave us all those pixel-perfect icons."

Manila docs in PDF Permanent link to this item in the archive.

Ken Dow has converted the Manila user's guide to PDF for easy printing.

Thanks Ken!

Today's feature Permanent link to this item in the archive.

New feature: How chat works in Radio UserLand.

Now you might ask "What's chat doing in a music-aware content management system?"

Just ask Thomas Dolby..

Today's song Permanent link to this item in the archive.

Thomas Dolby: She Blinded Me With Science.

Tomorrow's features Permanent link to this item in the archive.

Murphy-willing tomorrow Radio UserLand will have news feeds, in outlines, of course. A kind of personal aggregator.

How to visualize it. Look at this page, and imagine the same content in an outliner. This could also be the test-bed for new publish-and-subscribe features for syndicated content. I have an inkling this will be easy. We'll see how it goes.

At 4PM, it's working!

Another new feature coming in the next few hours, customizable color icons. We look forward to passing this version on to people who do colorful icons.

The future of RSS Permanent link to this item in the archive.

There's been discussion on the Syndication mail list on eGroups of new formats to succeed RSS 0.91.

There's been a specific proposal which I pointed to on Monday. I asked for an A-B comparison, so here's Flavor A, and here's Flavor B.

Comment on the Syndication mail list.

I had some comments here on my role in the continuation of RSS, at the end of the day, all I want to say is this, I have no idea where RSS is going, and I want to take some time away from it, keep doing the music stuff, new content tools, and play with some ideas, and get back to you in a couple of weeks.

Permanent link to archive for Tuesday, August 15, 2000. Tuesday, August 15, 2000

New feature: How links work in Radio UserLand

Economist: Son of Netscape

More evidence that the open source bubble has burst.  

Eric Kidd's open source dilemma. 

Next Radio UserLand feature: Chat. (Using the outliner of course.) I did my first chat at about 8:45PM with David Brown. I'll write more about it tomorrow. 

Today's song: Dream A Little Dream Of Me

Jeremy Bowers has done something very innovative with Radio UserLand. He's turned his history.xml file into a weblog. It's time for a callback so users' scripts can catch the history flow and turn it into any kind of XMLization they want.  

BTW, this is what I meant the other day about having a tool to go with every XML format. The outlineDocument format puts the power in users hands because there's a tool with an easy hood-lift, you don't need a degree in rocket science to figure it out, it just sneaks up on you. "If he can do it, so can I." 

OK, now here's a screen shot of Jeremy's history.xml file, integrated with the user hierarchy on OurFavoriteSongs.Com. The XML is a constantly changing, so don't expect to see exactly what's in the screen shot. 

It's an exciting time! Our users are trying things before we thought of them. Yesterday Aaron Swarz tried to open Scripting News in Radio UserLand. It almost worked! 

BTW, Aaron is 14. He's the next Wes Felter, imho. (The next Woz, again imho.) 

I got an email from Aaron correcting me. He's 13, not 14! I told him that I first met Wes when he was roughly that age. I didn't meet Woz until he was in his 30s. (He just turned 50 last week.) 

WSJ: Writers sue Web publishers. "Free-lance writers, long among the least powerful and lowest-paid members of the media, recently have taken a more-activist stance in trying to get paid when one of their works is downloaded over the Internet." 

Edd Dumbill thinks that RSS should become RDF.  

Michael Rose: Why is RDF Hard?  

Permanent link to archive for Monday, August 14, 2000. Monday, August 14, 2000

News! Permanent link to this item in the archive.

Motley Fool: "Authors still perform a valuable service by creating intellectual property. Publishers perform an increasingly useless service, copying information that individuals who own computers connected by the Internet can copy on their own."

I spoke briefly on the phone this afternoon with Clay Shirky, columnist for Feed, professor and startup-advisor. He wrote an op-ed piece in the NY Times about Napster that remains one of my anthems. We see eye-to-eye on where this is going, and the importance of the Internet's version of radio. He also pointed out that Napster has more members than AOL. An interesting statistic for sure. (The power of music, again.)

The second edition of the XML 1.0 spec is up for review on the W3C site. (It's not a new version of XML, just a new version of the spec.)

News.Com: AOL's Linux Software Leaks.

Music! Permanent link to this item in the archive.

Hey I found the Billboard Top 100 for 1961-72.

Today's song: It's In His Kiss. Shoop shoop!

In 1960, the Chiffons formed at James Monroe High School in the Bronx, New York

Radio UserLand does bookmarks Permanent link to this item in the archive.

Yesterday Radio UserLand got a feature I've wanted for a long time, Bookmarks.

They work just like Bookmarks in a Web browser. Put the cursor on something you want to remember. Choose a command, give it a name, click on OK.

When we're done, it will be a browser and authoring tool. To be a browser, you gotta have bookmarks.

UserLand viewed through a Notes lens Permanent link to this item in the archive.

Russ Lipton is a Lotus Notes developer who has discovered UserLand, our philosophy, software, and publications. It's been great to watch him process our stuff, I've always wondered how our work compares to Notes, and Russ is giving us some insight.

One of the first things Russ wanted was a whitepaper, but I haven't gotten around to writing one, so Russ took on the job. We want feedback and help. Is this useful? Do you want to contribute to the process?

We both feel that given that UserLand is a community as well as a company that the story would best be told by the community. Maybe this is not right, or perhaps now's not the time?

Jakob does a weblog? Permanent link to this item in the archive.

Jakob Nielsen says he's not running a weblog. Hmmm. Looks like a weblog to me. Now Jakob what if I wanted to point to your comments for August 8 (I do), there's no "permalink" to that bit of your weblog (the one that's not a weblog).

I gotta drink more coffee when I write Scripting News. Yesterday I said that Netscape was the first browser. Bad Dave! Mosaic was not even the first browser. Luckily, according to Jakob, I didn't blow it too bad, because Mosaic called them Bookmarks too, not Favorites.

Survey: Should Jakob Nielsen have a weblog?

I realized later that a better question would have been Does Jakob Nielsen already have a weblog?

Bees and more Permanent link to this item in the archive.

Microsoft has a whitepaper on content management. (Thanks to Phil Suh for the pointer.)

A proposal to add namespaces and RDF to RSS.

More than I ever wanted to know about yellowjackets.

Permanent link to archive for Sunday, August 13, 2000. Sunday, August 13, 2000

DaveNet: What is Leadership? 

Radio UserLand: How to Write for Radio UserLand

Hat-tip to MacWEEK for explaining how powerful users can be. "Adobe is risking a public relations disaster. Macromedia's graphics products are popular -- even among many users of Adobe software -- and fans of FreeHand, Flash, FireWorks and Dreamweaver won't take kindly to a lawsuit that aims to disable those programs' interfaces." 

David Brown's musical autobiography

Red Herring: Linux stocks land in the poorhouse

Here's the evidence in last year's War of the Bees. 

Being kind to the jungle Permanent link to this item in the archive.

This evening I'm working on the Bookmarks menu for Radio UserLand. I prefer the name Bookmarks, because that's what they feel like to me.

So where did the term Bookmark come from? That's what Netscape called them. Then comes MSIE, the second browser, and they call them Favorites. They do exactly the same thing. They are exactly the same thing.

So why did Microsoft have to give them a different name? This may sound trivial but it introduces confusion in a concept that should have been rock solid.

And when I do a Bookmark menu, when I look at MSIE on a prior art investigation, I am reminded that for some people the term Bookmark will be unfamiliar and for the rest of us it's got a twinge of unease.

For all I know their lawyers told them they couldn't use Netscape's term, but no matter, someone wasn't being kind to the jungle here.

A maturing format Permanent link to this item in the archive.

Heads-up to developers who like XML.

The outlineDocument format is getting pretty firm. Almost all the files in the Radio UserLand "cloud" are outlines in this format. There's an attribute system where each node has a type, and attributes that are appropriate to the type. When the user edits the outline, the attributes are visible only in a special leader character. There's a Get Info command that interprets the attributes in a user-understandable way.

It's a really nice open architecture, I've been adding functionality along these lines for the last few days, you can easily intermix different types of nodes in one outline, and when you 2click a node to expand it, it does the right thing.

Eventually, I believe there will be a developer community around this format as there are now developers using XML-RPC, SOAP and various XML-based syndication formats. This new format is mostly orthogonal to these formats, and it has an advantage that few XML formats have, there's a usable editor that generates, edits, and browses the format. No one has to guess what an editor for this format looks like, because the editor came first.

Clearly the tool-first model works better. I believe it's why the W3C-centered XML community is stalled, there are no tools for users to use. No one even knows what one would look like. In my experience, you can wait forever for tools to "emerge". It never happens.

On the other hand if there were spreadsheet artists today, as there were in the early days of PCs, I bet a great XML format could run under a spreadsheet, something simple that could be understood by all spreadsheets and programs that want to process spreadsheet data. I'm no expert in spreadsheets, but I could probably design a simple XMLization in a few hours. It wouldn't be hard.

Same with vector graphic programs, and in fact, such an XMLization exists, and has made its way through the W3C.

Is it sticky? Permanent link to this item in the archive.

So, what makes an XML format "sticky"? I admit I don't know. But I've done two to four sticky formats, depending on how you count, I think that's more than many others can claim (except the people who did XML 1.0, who laid a great foundation).

Even though I can't explain why, in a formal way, I think outlineDocument could be quite sticky. Please if you like doing networked applications, have a look at the spec, and let your mind wander into the things you might be able to build if there were a lot of documents in this format. We've got an editor, it's not perfect. But it communicates and it's usable and it will get better.

Another thing that makes a format sticky is content. That's one of the reasons I can start new formats -- I don't have to wait for "content people" to support them. Scripting News is available as an outlineDocument. And there's a folder of archives starting 7/20/00. All the files in my Radio UserLand folder are outlineDocuments. Here's an outline of my entire MP3 collection, organized by artist. So if I want to develop applications using this format, there's no chicken for my egg to wait for. And here's the key point, you don't have to wait either. If you're looking for cool stuff to do with XML content, more of it is coming online as the new tool rolls out.

So I've never promoted a format without shipping a tool first, and immediately generate content. I think that's the only way to go. That's why I'm a developer who likes XML, not an XML developer. It's a subtle but important distinction.

Today's song Permanent link to this item in the archive.

Once again I'm an Englishman in New York.

I don't drink coffee I drink tea, my dear Permanent link to this item in the archive.

Screen shot of Radio UserLand browsing users' upstreamed outlines. Lots of firsts in this screen shot, also quite a few rough edges. Even so, it's working. I can open history.xml to see what you're listening to. I can open text files and see them in the outline, without a separate window opening, and when I'm done reading, I can collapse to restore the context.

The Giving Birth Through Conversation thread continues. "I'm listening to a Sting song now, and it begins with Stevie Wonder's harmonica signature. For all I know it *is* Stevie Wonder, it's so much his. Now does Sting have to pay Stevie? You gotta be kidding."

As I was finishing late last night I posted thoughts on music on the Internet. Summary, it's music not file sharing that's powerful. And community is at the core of the power. Assume that people have music and are on the Internet. Now how to tell everyone else what you like. Someone who has every Sting song in their collection might be a good guide if I want two great new (for me) Sting songs every day for a month.

I had to look twice Permanent link to this item in the archive.

I got an email from Jeff Bezos. He wants my help testing a new navigation system. But I'm not an Amazon customer. You know, the patent thing. So thanks, but I'll have to pass.

Permanent link to archive for Saturday, August 12, 2000. Saturday, August 12, 2000

MacWEEK: Netscape's woeful Mac support

Wes Felter's distributed file sharing comparison, including Napster, Gnutella, Publius, Freenet and Mojo Nation. 

BTW, a few of the bees are back. The early ones. The scouts. In a couple of weeks they'll be swarming over everything that smells like bee food, which, unfortunately, includes people. 

A new feature, upstreaming, was released to Radio UserLand testers. "Upstreaming is the automatic movement of content off your workstation to a non-changing location that's publicly accessible." 

I have four playlists in my upstreamed folder. Next step, linking between outlines. To get that process started, every user's directory needs a directory of the files it contains.  

About firewalls. In general Radio UserLand will not work behind a firewall. We are not, with this product, working around firewalls in any way. That's a deliberate decision. Firewalls are designed to stop people from running servers. In 2000 that means you can't be part of a peer-to-peer community.  

A patent story so simple a child could understand why they are bad news for environments where people share ideas freely.  

A really nice redesign at Kevin Werbach's weblog companion to the Release 1.0 newsletter. 

An amazing thing. Every Sting song I've never heard is a big hit with me. Today I'm digging Brand New Day. I've lived that. Been there. Music gets to places no other artform can, for me at least. Thanks! 

NY Times: "He waves and says, 'Hey, aren't you Napster's lawyer?' I tell him I am and he announces, 'Napster's lawyer is on the plane!' Everyone in coach cheers. Right then I knew the record industry was in trouble." 

Potentially very bad news for anyone who's younger than Marek, depending on what your lawyer thinks of his patent. 

Suck: The Code War

Permanent link to archive for Friday, August 11, 2000. Friday, August 11, 2000

Food for thought. "We're working on making the Napster protocol run inside Radio UserLand and Frontier. It'll stand alongside our SOAP, XML-RPC, COM, Apple Event support." 

I just read a Business 2.0 article about Nullsoft. As I read the article, I wanted to say something to the Nullsoft people who did the MP3 search engine that was shut down. I'm sorry it turned out this way. I want more tools for exploring music on the Internet and I want to keep the ones we have.  

A candid screen shot of a day in the life of an XML programmer. 

ID3 information is key to making the Radio UserLand community work. After surveying the field of music apps on Windows and Mac, we decided not to add ID3 editing to the first release of Radio UserLand. This howto explains how to use two popular music apps to edit ID3 information. 

If you don't have a lot of money, don't move to Palo Alto. 

Tim O'Reilly: Unix server market share beats Win32

Last night after emails went out I stumbled across this page on the W3C website, an early account of how the Web worked, by Tim Berners-Lee. This was done when the Web was still a writing environment, not just in Tim's mind, but in his software too. 

Guiness ad seen by Bill Seitz: "Like drinking your favorite song." Bravo! 

Speaking of favorite songs, the new aggregator is starting to look pretty good. Yesterday we connected two systems that previously were not connected. Just the right balance of XML and XML-RPC (I hope). What's most amazing to me is that, to my surprise, our early users for Radio UserLand are doing a great job with the ID3 information. The database that's building on the aggregator is remarkably clean. 

Also last night I finally read Chris Locke's interview with Ian Clarke on Feed. Everyone's been pointing to it, and to hear the comments, you'd think Clarke was some kind of raving lunatic. Nothing could be further from the truth. I was struck by a question at the end of the piece. "So it's something more like Yahoo than Altavista," Locke said. "Yes. That's exactly what it'll do. It'll be like a Yahoo directory. But it'll actually figure out the categories for itself, rather than rely on anyone to tell it what the categories are." Personally, I have a lot of trouble believing that. I think the secret to routing around Yahoo and DMOZ is to give a good hierarchy editing tool to millions of Internet users, and let the cream rise to the top.  

Specifically, my goal is to make it easy for people to create outlines that act as indexes on the HTML Web, and also as an index on itself. Music is the catalyst. As the World Wide Web gave us pages of text with links, the "World Outline" gives us expand and collapse on all kinds of things that are distributed over the Internet. It's both a browser and a writing tool. So from day one it's two-way, as TBL's Web was. 

BTW, we'd be happy to work with the FreeNet people to make our tools work with their network.  

FairTunes.Com is getting Slashdotted today. I'm making a note to myself to follow Jeff Barr's pointers to their XML format for music payment. Looks like something we could support in Radio UserLand.  

Hey I just walked into the kitchen to get coffee, and heard Doc talking about his weblog on NPR's Forum. Isn't life amazing sometimes? 

Today's song: Englishman in New York.  

"Gentleness, sobriety are rare in this society. At night a candle's brighter than the sun." 

Permanent link to archive for Thursday, August 10, 2000. Thursday, August 10, 2000

WSJ, others tune into Scripting News scoop Permanent link to this item in the archive.

WSJ: AOL takes down MP3 search engine. "America Online said that it would take down a controversial new search engine that for the past month has allowed Internet users to locate music files in the popular MP3 file format, including pirated versions of songs, on the Web."

Reuters and News.Com have the story too.

We had the story on July 14.

Adobe sues Macromedia Permanent link to this item in the archive.

Press Release: "Adobe will aggressively enforce its patent portfolio and protect the interests of its stockholders," said Colleen Pouliot, Adobe's senior vice president and general counsel. "To be fair, competition has to be based on a level playing field -- companies must compete on the basis of innovation and according to the laws of the land. All we ask is that Macromedia play by these rules and stop infringing our patent."

Frank Leahy, a former Apple engineer: "Another case of midgets getting obvious patents by standing on the shoulders of giants."

MetaFilter discussion on the Adobe patent.

Of course Macromedia says that Adobe's claim is BS.

Impetuousness pays off? Permanent link to this item in the archive.

A long long time ago a smart young guy, fresh out of Microsoft, told me to invest in a San Francisco networking company. Foolishly, I plunked down a bunch of money; I was a classic nouveau riche cashed out Silicon Valley entrepreneur, a sucker if there ever was one.

Over the years, the company struggled, took on more money, people came and went, I'd get FedEx packages every couple of years offering to sell me stock at ever-reduced prices.

So imagine my surprise, trawling around for something interesting to read, I found out that today was a very lucky day for yours truly!

Today's stories Permanent link to this item in the archive.

Liberzine: Making money in a copyright-free world.

CBS Marketwatch: "What would Garcia have thought of the furor involving Napster and organizations that make it possible for fans to download music off the Internet for free?"

Another episode in the glamorous life of Jeffrey Zeldman.

I tested Scour Exchange yesterday. It's a total ripoff of Napster. A few extra nice touches. Napster is still number one with me. It's funky and familiar.

Lance Knobel: "The assumption is that journalists will respect an embargo, even without prior agreement. That's not legally enforceable, of course, but it's the operating norm."

More on the copy protection rebellion of the mid-80s in two DG messages posted last night.

Wired: Blame it on the RIAA. "Last year the music labels successfully lobbied to insert in unrelated legislation a clause that prevents copyrights from reverting to their authors. Now, they've agreed with artists to recommend rescinding the change to copyright law."

ZDNet: Intel Likes Napster.

Boy Meets Girl Permanent link to this item in the archive.

They say there's no great writing on the Web.

Here's a story that many heterosexual men would love to tell about their ex-girlfriends.

A simple story. Boy Meets Girl, Chapter 4.

My friend's heart attack Permanent link to this item in the archive.

Yesterday I spent an hour on the phone hearing the riveting story of my friend's heart attack. While he told it, I rubbed my own heart. I had to keep telling myself "I'm not having a heart attack now, hearing this story won't hurt me."

He had the heart attack at Stanford Hospital, while they were trying to figure out what's wrong with his body. At one point he asked "What's going on?" The doctor said calmly "You're having a heart attack." I guess if you have to hear those words, that's the person you want to hear them from.

He's become something of a celebrity at Stanford. Imagine how long you have to wait, as a doctor, before a heart attack happens while a patient is hooked up to all the instruments.

They saved him. Cleaned out his circulatory system. Got his blood pressure down. Gave him all kinds of drugs and vitamins. Now he's exercising and eating better.

To me, the best thing is that my friend is now telling more about himself. Why not? If he hadn't been at the hospital when it happened, he'd be dead. More evidence that we don't get out of this alive. Don't wait. Do it now. There might not be a tomorrow.

If you made it this far, here's your reward, a piece of virtual cheesecake. No calories or fat.

Permanent link to archive for Wednesday, August 09, 2000. Wednesday, August 09, 2000

Important Permanent link to this item in the archive.

Frontier security alert. We closed a major hole today. All Frontier users please update asap.

Response from AOL Permanent link to this item in the archive.

Upside: AOL to Pull MP3 Search Engine.

BTW, the MP3 Search command is still there. Now's your last chance to check it out.

I wrote a brief DaveNet piece, to keep the email readers uptodate.

Sheila and copy protection Permanent link to this item in the archive.

I can hear Sheila's voice so well in this rant about women's websites. "Just because I usually carry my stuff in a purse, that doesn't mean I'm only interested in shopping!"

That's Sheila, for sure. Her story is a loop-back to me, to the 80s when the idea of women's software was floating around. The women rejected it, soundly, for many of the same reasons that Sheila gives. Basically they were saying "We have minds, and we use them." At least that's what I heard.

Another loop-back. Someday I must write the story of the users' rebellion that caused the software industry to remove copy protection. It was very much like the Napster debate, except this time I'm a user, and that time I was running a software company.

Eventually we all relented, putting stickers on the outside of our shrinkwrap saying "Not copy protected." There was no way the users were going to give in. And there was no way a vendor could receive so much hatemail from paying customers without doing something about it. (It was a thing to behold, and scary beyond belief to be in the center of it.)

Eventually, I believe, the music industry must relent, not because of legalities, but because their customers eventually must come first. Prince is right, they're in business. That's how businesses stay honest.

Clueless at Lucent Permanent link to this item in the archive.

I just got an email from a division of Lucent Technologies containing a press release that is "under embargo until 6:30am PST, Thursday, August 10, 2000."

Normally I could care less who Lucent announces an alliance with (unless it was with a product I care about, say Blogger, for example), but this is noteworthy since it's a PR blast, that's under embargo?

Hello. Is anyone home over there at Lucent? There's a PR flack running loose somewhere in your company who needs to learn how embargoes work.

(The big clue is that an embargo requires an agreement.)

Stories Permanent link to this item in the archive.

Reuters: Prince excited by Napster. "Young people need to be educated about how the record companies have exploited artists and abused their rights for so long and about the fact that online distribution is turning into a new medium which might enable artists to put an end to this exploitation.''

AP: "You can also burn audio CDs with MP3 music files downloaded from the Web... Is that legal? Yes, if the CD is for your personal use. Downloading copyrighted MP3s is legal, but it's illegal to give others access to copyrighted materials."

Popular Mechanics: PC vs Mac.

Curt Cloninger: Usability Experts are from Mars. "Nielsen thinks today's web is an advanced but ill-used database. Kioken thinks today's web is a fledgling but ill-used multimedia platform. And each side knows that their view of the web will prevail."

Joel Spolsky: 12 Steps to Better Code. "One programmer, who had to write the code to calculate the height of a line of text, simply wrote 'return 12;' and waited for the bug report to come in."

Radio UserLand: How to Create an HTML Dialog.

WFMU's Ken Freedman publishes his playlists in HTML.

Dan Gillmor: Putting Napster's technology to other uses.

Here's the description of the lunch session I'm doing at Seybold on August 29. They're making a big deal about, even running a press release.

Stephen Downes sees problems in Moreover's user agreement.

Internet players Permanent link to this item in the archive.

Compaq CEO, Michael Capellas: "We're coming out with MP3 players. The Internet will become different types of devices that serve different purposes."

Agreed. Just be sure to fully support the standards of the Internet. Use XML and HTTP and you can't go wrong.

Radio UserLand progress Permanent link to this item in the archive.

I've been deliberately keeping it pretty quiet on Scripting News about the specifics of Radio UserLand development over the last week or so. We have a great test group, and the program is evolving quickly as we learn from them. We're going to have to rewrite the Radio UserLand site, but that's a small deal, we want to get the software right, get a great community platform going, and then evangelize like crazy men and women.

If you want to follow the developments, the best way to do that is to join the mail list, or read the archives which are public. With Brent back from vacation, I'm switching over to features of the community space that all Radio UserLand users will share. Today we released a new version of the built-in webserver, that's a key component for the cloud. We need rock-solid and secure and really easy to understand server performance on the desktop.

My biggest conceptual problem now is having a canonical way to refer to songs. How can I tell if two people are referring to the same song? ID3 is not universally supported, and when it is, it often contains incorrect information. Maybe it'll be some kind of heuristic? Or perhaps people will take responsibility for an album, go get the physical media, and make a list of the songs it contains, with correct spellings, and while you're at it correctly spell the artist's name. This would trigger a review process. CDDB is not a solution. Lots of errors there.

BTW, when I searched for KD Lang on CDNOW, they didn't find her. Ooops. Later after struggling I learned that I had to include periods after the K and the D. So even at the artist level, there's a need for a canonical name. It would be great if I could point to a song and say "Canonicize it". Then it would change the meta information invisibly attached to the song to agree with the agreed-upon name of the song. A dialog would appear. "There's no artist named KD Lang in the database, perhaps you meant K.D. Lang?" Two buttons, OK and Cancel.

Then artists like Prince are going to give us grief when they change their names, or try to go nameless. Somehow our XMLizations have to allow this too.

Let's have a great discussion about this. Thanks!

A constant question Permanent link to this item in the archive.

I get emails and DG posts from people who want to know what music has to do with our core business, which is writing tools for the Two-Way-Web. Not surprisingly, there are two answers.

First, as we turn the corner into cloudland, it instantly becomes a content management problem. The Internet is a writing environment (a third view, from Jupiter perhaps?). So through music flow, which is something people have a lot of writing to do about, we find new users for our writing tools. I'm a whore in this way, I don't care how they find out how wonderful our stuff is. I'm willing to go where the users are. (And as a music user myself, I'm already there, I want to solve these problems, it's something I can do to make a contribution to music.)

Second, much as the space program provided liftoff for microprocessors, so the flow of music will force us to solve problems that looked large before we had the immediate need to solve them. Tied up in standards bodies, XML and HTTP have remained so stagnant that Napster didn't even use them. Now, while no one's looking, we're going to blast out some new apps for these well-deployed technologies, and tie them into a writing environment and library system that will realize TBL's Semantic Web vision and the Two-Way-Web vision, so quickly that you won't believe it. I don't.

It's the old suspension of disbelief thing.

Upside piece Permanent link to this item in the archive.

An important reader asked where the link to yesterday's Upside article went. Well, it went into DaveNet, which has a higher readership than Scripting News, and for me, more prestige. Maybe that's not so for everyone, so here's the link.

Upside: AOL's MP3 search service similar to one being sued by Time Warner. "America Online has launched an MP3 search service to boost its Winamp music division even as merger partner Time Warner sues another search service doing the same thing."

Today's Song Permanent link to this item in the archive.

John Sebastian: Younger Girl.

Permanent link to archive for Tuesday, August 08, 2000. Tuesday, August 08, 2000

Today's stories Permanent link to this item in the archive.

DaveNet: Developments.

Reuters: States accuse record labels of price fixing. "Twenty-eight states filed suit against the world's five largest record labels on Tuesday, accusing them of fixing prices of compact discs and demanding 'hundreds of millions of dollars' in damages."

Industry Standard: The Piano-Scroll Precedent. "What in retrospect may seem quaint and funny 'was as deadly serious to them then as Napster is now,' says Paul Goldstein, a Stanford Law School professor and copyright expert."

Pet peeve of the day. Articles about websites that don't link to the site they're writing about.

How to find the WinAmp server Permanent link to this item in the archive.

It's a little tricky to find.

First, go to http://www.winamp.com/.

Look in the upper-right corner, there's a small search box, entitled "MP3 Search". Enter an artist name, album or song title. Click on Search. A list of music appears. Click on a title to download the MP3 to your hard drive.

Radio UserLand/Mac Permanent link to this item in the archive.

Today is Radio UserLand/Mac beta release day. You can get it now on the download page.

Please remember that this is a beta. We're still working on the software.

Check out the support page for updating instructions, and a pointer to the mail list. We ask that all users join the mail list so we can get the benefit of your experience.

Critiquing Prince's site Permanent link to this item in the archive.

I hate sites that try to control every aspect of their use. Prince's site is one of the most paranoid sites I've ever seen. As I was browsing around I conceded OK it's another pov of the Web, then I came across a page with all kinds of broken images, and there's the lesson, keep it simple, it's hard work to keep a site paranoid. You end up with broken links.

From the Black Hole of Mike Donellan Permanent link to this item in the archive.

Mike says: "In the same way that Lars Ulrich shouldn't be blathering on about the way things work on the internet like he does, neither should internet people be blathering on about the way the music business works either. Mindless name-calling between groups who should be supporting each other at this important cross-road is just gonna end up putting the control in the hands of somebody who REALLY doesn't give a shit: the government."

My use of Napster Permanent link to this item in the archive.

My use of Napster has shifted. After going to a concert, the first since using Napster, I've been exploring Sting music released after The Police split up. Some wonderful stuff, like Fields of Gold. What a beautiful song. I've also been exploring KD Lang. What's different is that the music is stuff that I've not purchased.

So yesterday I bought a KD Lang album at CDNOW, and today I bought a Sting album.

From the world of Blogger Permanent link to this item in the archive.

Unlike Megnut's Mom, I (heart) acronyms. I had to say that the Blogger way. Forgive me.

Blogger now supports syndication, in a low-tech way.

Forbes article on Spam Permanent link to this item in the archive.

Forbes reporter Kiri Blakeley is working on a story on Spam and ISPs. She's seeking help from people who have worked at ISPs, on the record or off.

Thanks! Permanent link to this item in the archive.

I'd like to thank the people of the press who are working with me, in new ways. I am not a competitor in the sense that I will not call 19 people and get quotes and do all the research that a professional reporter can. I love partnering with reporters. The first time I did it was with Jodi Mardesich, when she was at the SJ Merc. I had a source saying that Gil Amelio had been fired, but it hadn't been announced yet. Jodi and I both got our stories on the Web at the same moment, hers a reportorial, and mine an op-ed. This is the win-win. I'm a participant in the industry, and I write. Sometimes I get leads that I can't do much with. We can work together.

The value of links Permanent link to this item in the archive.

Over on Inessential, they're talking about the value of links down the left edge of weblogs.

When I spoke with Joel yesterday, he told me that that a link in the left margin of Scripting News is worth a lot to Google. When I linked to him there he became the first hit when you search for Joel on Google. I think Susan Kitchens found the same thing when she became the authority on Lake George, NY, according to Google.

Then I remembered that Google rates hits based on how many places point to you, and I guess it must be recursive in some way, because Scripting News is pointed to in so many places, as Doc found out, a link from this site means more than a link from other sites.

In that context, I'm glad that Updates is the first link in the left edge, perhaps that acts as a distributor of flow to frequently updated Manila sites. I like that!

Permanent link to archive for Monday, August 07, 2000. Monday, August 07, 2000

Salon covers retail Permanent link to this item in the archive.

Salon: Napster vs the record stores. "Our sales are up 19 percent over last year because of all the publicity," she reports. "You can't open a newspaper or magazine and not see a Napster headline. We've never got so much free advertising. Music is exciting again."

Vin Scelsa Permanent link to this item in the archive.

I talked on the phone with Joel Spolsky this afternoon. We talked about a lot of things, including Radio UserLand, and how it relates to weblogs. The ideas are quite similar. Music chosen by people, the same way weblogs are stories chosen by people.

Joel said that all music on commercial radio in NY is programmed by machines, except for one show. I had to know more. So he sent pointers.

Vin Scelsa has a show on WNEW, a station that's been through all kinds of formats over the years. I remember WNEW very well, and Vin Scelsa, from the late 60s and early 70s. It was the album rock station that became the focal point for the new music of the times in NY.

I asked if Scelsa has a website, Joel said that his fans operate sites where they record all his playlists.

"We gotta work with them!" I said.

PS: Joel's New Year's Resolution: No more News.Com.

Something for everyone Permanent link to this item in the archive.

This section started with a pointer to the patent page in today's NY Times. Then I realized it had been a long time since I had thought about their "free subscription required" cookie. I point to the Times even though they require membership. How do they get me to do that?

Surely they must have had the same kinds of debates that the music industry is having now, but they did it quietly. They give away their content, the stuff they still charge for in print. Quietly, in a NY Timesish way, they have become the authoritative voice in a new medium, as they were in the old.

Perhaps the people who run the Times are more thoughtful, in the sense that they thought more as the world was changing, and when the time came, they made the right call, without dragging their users into a bloody paranoid mess.

This is exactly what AOL could do. Since they understand the online world, presumably, and now own a big chunk of music content, they could make the adjustment on behalf of both their industries.

A Jewish vice-president? Permanent link to this item in the archive.

Reuters: "Presidential candidate Al Gore has picked Senator Joseph Lieberman as his vice presidential running mate, which would make the Connecticut moderate the first Jew to run on a major national ticket, Democratic sources said on Monday."

What do you think? Permanent link to this item in the archive.

What is The Coalition for the Future of Music?

A network effect Permanent link to this item in the archive.

Wow, Doc starts off a topic, I respond, then Jakob Nielsen, then I go again, and now Joel Spolsky has a letter from a guy at Wordsworth. Are we being lured into a barn-raising here? LOL! Could Wordsworth define a new position as the Web-friendly bookseller? Hmmm.

Yesterday's discoveries Permanent link to this item in the archive.

Two old bands whose music I love, but had forgotten. The Hollies and The Lovin Spoonful.

In technology, we got WinAmp working with Radio UserLand; the discovery was that Live365 has a plug-in for WinAmp that streams out what you play to up to 365 other people.

So amateur radio stations, like amateur websites are here. It looks like Scripting News as a radio station is just days away, instead of months. Gotta love the Internet.

Welcome back Permanent link to this item in the archive.

Reminder to self when the radio station is up and running, mix equal parts of KD Lang and John Sebastian for an interesting contrast. Smooth melancholy moodiness combined with Welcome Back Kotter. Nice mix.

Yeah we tease him a lot Permanent link to this item in the archive.

What is Antarcti.ca?

Welcome back, to that same old place that you laughed about. Who'd thought they'd lead you right back where we need you. Welcome back, welcome back, welcome back.

It has nothing to do with UI Permanent link to this item in the archive.

Jakob Nielsen has a theory why Doc sells books through Amazon and not through Wordsworth.

I have my own theory, well actually, it's the Positioning theory. In every market there's a ladder. A number one, two, and three, and everyone else. Number one and two make all the money. Number three is barely hanging in there. Everyone else is coming and going all the time.

It goes without saying that in Books-on-the-Web, Amazon is number one. Number two is probably Barnes & Noble. Borders is number three. Wordsworth, who I had never heard of, is in the clutter, in the noise, not on the ladder at all, as far as I know. In other words, Amazon is Coke, B&N is Pepsi. What about Fatbrain? They're the uncola. They've acknowledged the ladder by not trying to be on it. What exactly their ladder is called is something of a mystery to me.

The reason it's this way is due to the way the human mind works. The ladder is in our minds. It doesn't matter if Amazon's software is better, even if it was worse, we'd think it was better. When I stopped buying from Amazon, I stopped buying books on the Internet, not on principle, I believe the others wouldn't rip me off. I'm just lazy. And I'm a product of Positioning.

Further, I think I was getting ready to stop buying from Amazon even before the patent mess started. Why? Because they violated the prime directive of Positioning. They owned the top of the hill in books-on-the-Web, and then commited the cardinal sin, Line Extension. That confuses my mind. Would I go to a bookstore to buy a refrigerator? Not in this lifetime.

To Jakob, it's not all about user interface. We're in a larger context here. Stop everything and read the Ries & Trout book. It's old, but the human species is even older.

More on Amazon Permanent link to this item in the archive.

For me Amazon shot itself in the head when they attacked Barnes & Noble with The Patent. B&N owned the top of the hill in cerebral book stores, not books on the Web. I grew up in NY where B&N was big, big, big, and I was a big book reader as a kid.

But as a Web guy, it would never have occurred to me to buy books on the Web from Barnes & Noble.

I liked Amazon! I used to root for them the way I rooted for the Mets. Go Web! Go Amazon. Same thing. Spending money at the Amazon site, to me, was like voting for the Web.

Until they became dirty, then they flipped around, like Daryl Strawberry. There's nothing worse than a brand you trusted that then proves they're no better than the other guys.

Today's song Permanent link to this item in the archive.

KD Lang: My Last Cigarette.

Permanent link to archive for Sunday, August 06, 2000. Sunday, August 06, 2000

DaveNet: Music with Woz

Pictures from last night's concert. 

Woz is famous for playing with his Gameboy during concerts at Shoreline. I may be the first to actually get a picture of him doing it. 

William Safire provides the exact FDR-inspired line from Bush's acceptance speech: "Although Al Gore now leads FDR's party, the only thing he has to offer is fear itself." Fantastic. I'm going to steal that line, for sure. 

Jakob Nielsen: Why Doc Searls Doesn't Sell Anything

Nicholas Riley posts his likes and dislikes of Audion's player interface. (Screen shot.) 

xmlhack: XML Parser for JavaScript

Music with Dan Permanent link to this item in the archive.

Dan Gillmor: "Now combine the server qualities of a Napster-like application with the ability of the central computer to note that you're online, and how to reach you when you are. Suddenly, you can be a Web site yourself -- a publisher -- creating content on your own computer, using software tools that are both powerful and easy to use to create sophisticated content, and dishing it out to anyone you want. You can be found, in theory, because people know how to find you using the search engine technology built into the central servers where you register."

Dan it's actually even neater than that. You have a URL for your site that routes through a server that's logically one-level-up from you. If you're online, it connects to your server to get the latest content. If not, it's served from the cache on the one-level-up server.

This idea is in the air, it first came up for me eight months ago in a conversation with Alex Cohen who was at Kleiner-Perkins at the time. No doubt other technologists are thinking along these lines now. We're actively developing in this model. And before that we had been planning to do this kind of thing for years. (That's why we made the investment in workstation writing tools, that process is well-documented in DaveNet and on Scripting News.)

Now, to Doc, what if someone patented the idea eight months ago, and is issued the patent three years from now? This is the minefield I was talking about. I refuse to patent for ethical reasons. See how developers can get burned for playing fairly in idea-space?

Today's song Permanent link to this item in the archive.

KD Lang: Constant Craving.

Lang played at Shoreline last night.

Permanent link to archive for Saturday, August 05, 2000. Saturday, August 05, 2000

XML-RPC & SOAP Permanent link to this item in the archive.

David Adams has deployed an XML-RPC-based spell-checker.

Microsoft has posted a page with SOAP 1.1 issues.

Edd Dumbill asks us to: Show me the pointy brackets!

Rankings Permanent link to this item in the archive.

A shuffling of the order on most-visited-sites-yesterday. Look who's number two! Wow. Lots of hits.

Sanjay Sheth provides the explanation. The Motley Fool published an article that praises Joel, to the hilt, and links to his site, very nicely. Congrats to Joel!

Doc Searls looked up his favorite sites at WebMostLinked, with surprising results.

Fear of fear Permanent link to this item in the archive.

A great line from GW Bush's acceptance speech. Goes something like this. FDR was a great Democrat who said "We have nothing to fear but fear itself." Al Gore just wants to give you the last part. I'm sure he said it more eloquently. I laughed out loud. Then I remembered who was saying it. The corporate candidate. The best speech writers money can buy.

I think I'll vote for Ralph Nader. When he speaks, I believe the words are his own. My vote for having a mind and thoughts and vision, and the courage to put them to the test.

Eric Raymond on Napster Permanent link to this item in the archive.

Eric Raymond certainly has his own thoughts and a vision.

But I wonder if he's used Napster?

As they say about love, if you've experienced it you know what I'm talking about, if not, no words will suffice.

(Even so, for an idea of what it's like, read Clay Shirky's anthem, which is a concise and eloquent user's pov of Napster.)

Imagine when the phonograph came out. What would the contrarian's argument have been then? Imagine all the musicians it will put out of work.

(As I write this I'm listening to Elton John and John Lennon singing I Saw Her Standing There. Now tell me where I'd go to buy that song? The next song queued up is Lennon and Jimi Hendrix doing Day Tripper. I had no idea these recordings even existed!)

David Brown: "As far as I can remember, that particular recording of I Saw Her Standing There was found as the B-side of the Philadelphia Freedom single that Elton released in 1975."

So, after you finish telling me about right and wrong (I've heard it 80K times), you could then choose to use your imagination and consider all the inspiration, serendipity, even synchronicity that comes from massive numbers of people sharing their musical discoveries. Music is not like software. It resonates at an emotional level, it lifts out memories, so they can float away. And the fact that it's shared squares the power.

Music makes me happy. I have plenty of money, and am happy to share it with the artists and the music industry. I'm even willing to pay more so young people who have less money can have music for free. I consider that an investment in the future. Maybe when they're my age they'll remember the act of generosity from our generation to theirs and be similarly kind to the generation after them.

Eric, here's an opportunity for you and others to expand your horizons. You don't control this conversation as you did for a couple of years in software (glad that's over).

Stop reading, go download a copy of Napster, and find out what the fuss is all about. Music on the Internet is magic. It's the biggest killer app so far.

Today's song Permanent link to this item in the archive.

John Lennon: "Every day in every way it's getting better and better."

Permanent link to archive for Friday, August 04, 2000. Friday, August 04, 2000

Cross-generational email Permanent link to this item in the archive.

Nick Robinson: "Hey Dave, I attended a Young technology leaders conference (NexTech in Austin, Texas) and Fred Seibert of MTV Online asked if anyone didn't use Napster or Gnutilla. In a crowd of over 750 upper high school and lower college students only two people held their hands up. Those around them could see that they are obviously joking. With that he said that File sharing would never go away and when one method dies, 10 more will sprout up."

My response: "Don't trust anyone over 30, and tell them that a 45-year old told you that, so you know it's true. ;->"

Weblogs are not a passing fad Permanent link to this item in the archive.

As Evan Williams says, the idea of easy writing for the Web is here to stay. Every once in a while a pundit trivializes weblogs, as Jon Udell does. "There was once a hope that the weblog could become a powerful tool for reaching out and connecting with the world. Instead, it has become a powerful tool for self-gratification and self-absorption." Hey Jon, there are good weblogs and self-gratifying ones, and some of the self-gratifying ones are good. So what.

Steve Ross spots a bug Permanent link to this item in the archive.

Steve Ross: "Almost every article I've read has referred to the sharing of digital music online as 'piracy,' the very term that the RIAA has pounded into our heads. The only problem with this characterization is that it has not been legally proven (And even if it were, I would argue that our current intellectual property laws are relics of a prior era, and should be radically modified.) If Napster were to win in court, and music sharing were declared 'fair use,' then it absolutely cannot be considered 'piracy.'"

Windows, the first musical operating system Permanent link to this item in the archive.

Microsoft: "During normal operation or in Safe mode, your computer may play Fur Elise or It's a Small, Small World seemingly at random. This is an indication sent to the PC speaker from the computer's BIOS that the CPU fan is failing or has failed, or that the power supply voltages have drifted out of tolerance. This is a design feature of a detection circuit and system BIOSes developed by Award/Unicore from 1997 on. "

Only steal from the best™.

Oh the life of a programmer! Permanent link to this item in the archive.

I'm still figuring out what Radio UserLand is. Today I'm thinking of it (seriously) as a multi-user musical operating system that runs over the Internet. First there were graphical operating systems, it make sense that music comes next. Who doesn't like music?

Yesterday's improvements can be seen in my history file. When my player starts a new song it hurls an xml-rpc message at the server, which saves a new version of the file onto a static server. Now, since our ID3 act is together, you get the artist, album and song title, if they were in the MP3 file on my system.

A lab environment? Permanent link to this item in the archive.

To lawyers who say programmers must keep a "lab notebook" to defend against all kinds of suits, that's another view of Scripting News. It's a "lab notebook". Even if the lawyers didn't demand it, every programmer should keep one, imho, and it should be public, so everyone can see how our minds work, and how we "steal from the best" just like writers and musicians do. (Do I have to wear a "lab coat" too?)

Of course I think that patent infringement suits are worthless garbage. I am an American citizen, born in the USA, where we value freedom above all, and freedom of speech is the number one freedom, afaik. I'm writing a story. The Internet and my software are deeply integrated. If the Internet is a free-speech zone (damn straight) then so is my programming space. One and the same thing.

Programmers are always having to learn how lawyers' minds work. How about returning the favor? Here's a programming concept. The "default value" of something. This is the value of a variable if the user hasn't specified one. Now, apply this to the law. The "default value" of the variable freeSpeech should be "true".

Ralph Hempel keeps a lab notebook too. "I love writing in my lab log, it's easy to do in between compiles, while I'm connecting to the Web, or while the soldering iron is heating up."

ZDNet's Mary Jo Foley dives into the minds of programmers. It's great to see this kind of stuff. All the reporting on the high tech industry, but little of it reflects how programmers work.

It's the community, honey Permanent link to this item in the archive.

Radio UserLand is getting another community feature this morning. You know the XMLization of the signed-on users list. I'm going to load that into an outline.

This is a miletone, it's the first time I've loaded a live XML file into the outliner over HTTP. It's working, here's a screen shot.

Now for people who think that outliners haven't changed in ten years, check this out. When I double-click on Scripting News Radio, it makes an HTTP request, gets the XML text in my history file, parses it, and fills in the songs under it.

To refresh, collapse and re-expand. This is a Web browser, but it's not HTML that it's browsing, it's XML. It'll be easy to generalize and allow the user to specify callbacks to process other kinds of XML. I think we're onto something.

More community stuff Permanent link to this item in the archive.

Wow, there's lots going on on the Macster discussion group.

I just re-read all the comments on the Cooper article from last month, and this one struck me as the most right-on. Cooper did the thing I hate the most. He swiped not just me, but the whole idea that we can get the information for ourselves, instead of trusting paid bottlenecks.. like Cooper. It's the community that counts.

It was a pyramid scheme, dummy Permanent link to this item in the archive.

Motley Fool: "Contributing to the decline in Amazon's stock is waning market enthusiasm for online companies, with Amazon being a poster child for the species. That status was no doubt reinforced when the company said many of its partners in the Amazon Commerce Network were issuing stock as payment for co-branding on Amazon's online mall, and for access to the company's customer base."

Today's song Permanent link to this item in the archive.

Joan Baez: The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down. "Now I don't mind, I'm chopping wood, and I don't care if the money's no good. Just take what you need and leave the rest, but they should never have taken the very best."

Killer idea for the music industry Permanent link to this item in the archive.

Hey boys and girls I just figured something out.

I'm adding a Want-List to Radio UserLand.

Songs that I want good clean ID3'd renderings of.

Business model: I want to pay for every song on that list. In return I get a beautiful professionally done, quality-assured scan of the song and I agree not to redistribute it. Sign the statement digitally.

Morning pre-coffee ennui Permanent link to this item in the archive.

It's a slow morning on the Internet. No new scandals, John Markoff is in China, Megnut's mom is running the show while Meg vacations in Hawaii (that should be interesting), Napster is still running, and the Republicans nominated a presidential candidate that some say knows as much about the world as an "average TWA pilot."

Yes yes it's a slow morning. How can you tell? Because this message makes Scripting News. I failed again! Shades of high school. Why doesn't everyone use eGroups? So much simpler. For everyone.

Some have asked (maybe not so innocently) if the people who own Napster also own UserLand. It's not true. But keep spreading those rumors.

Gotta love the music industry. When asked "What about what Courtney said?" one ex-Warner exec says "She did crack while she was pregnant." OK, I guess then we should ignore everything she said, right?

I wonder if there are any mensches in the music biz.

Permanent link to archive for Thursday, August 03, 2000. Thursday, August 03, 2000

John Gilmore on Napster Permanent link to this item in the archive.

John Gilmore: "Generic technology for copying or sharing of files does have real and substantial uses for all sorts of legitimate things. The Web is such a technology, so is the Internet. So are Xerox machines and personal computers. Napster and its ilk are the baby-steps of a new leap in this capability. Clearly it should be impossible for any copyright holder, or group thereof, to shut down such socially useful creations, no matter how easy it is to use them for 'evil'. It would be like banning pencils because bookies use them to record illegal bets."

Memory of a memory Permanent link to this item in the archive.

A year ago we were re-rolling out the old outliners.

Over on the outliners discussion group they're still lamenting the lack of a good outliner on Windows. When we get done with the first release of Radio UserLand I'll post a bulletin over there saying "Come get it." Then, no doubt, I'll get a bunch of complaints about why it doesn't do this or that that some outliner they love used to do.

A corner turn day Permanent link to this item in the archive.

Oh the life of a programmer!

I started the day, eleven hours ago, with a mission to get Radio UserLand to do the right thing with ID3 information. One thing lead to another, and I was commited to a from-the-ground-up rewrite of one of the core Radio UserLand routines, the one that loads a folder of information into the object database.

It was the right thing to do, now we have a three-level-hierarchy, if the information is available. Artist-album-song. And double-click simplicity for song-launching. And a foundation for multiple folders. Much more complete support for ID3. A callback that overrides all this if you have your own way of figuring out where a song belongs.

I also started a page for the callbacks. As with all our projects, scripting plays a big role. It's nice to have a friendly playlist editor and runtime (we're not there yet) but it's even better if you can make it work exactly the way you want it to. A different kind of music programming environment? That's what I hope this is turning into. But of course I have absolutely no sense of perspective right now!

Gotta go for a walk.

Community community Permanent link to this item in the archive.

A wise man sent an email saying that being able to crawl through other people's songs is the key to all this stuff. I agree totally. That and much more.

On the DG here a question arises, what happened to the Two-Way-Web. It's alive and cooking. You better believe we're going to do some kick-ass writing about music once all the pieces are wired together. We're programming at beyond-Internet speed. Fast! We gotta get there quick.

It's all about community.

Apple lawsuit backfires? Permanent link to this item in the archive.

News.Com: Apple suit calls attention to iBook rumor.

BusinessWeek: "Apple's chief executive is a bit too controlling and devious for me."

Morning stuff Permanent link to this item in the archive.

DaveNet: A reminder to the music industry.

Read Robert Occhialini's story of his life as a music user. "I'm a huge music consumer. I mean really huge. I buy at least two CDs a week, sometimes more. I have a huge CD and record collection, and music has always played an important role in my life. I look around my apartment and realize that I am the record label's idea of a best customer. I use Napster every single day at work. Rarely is it to check out music that I have never heard of, and almost never is it to download music I don't already own."

A reader named Calvin says AOL has a deal with the music companies.

Clearing something up, Radio UserLand is Pike, but better.

We're working on ID3 this week. Bob Bierman has improved our code for loading information about music into the Radio UserLand object database. An update will go out shortly. I asked him to post a page of pointers to specs about ID3. I'd like this to become a focal point for our work here. I'm learning a lot, and am a complete newbie. But it's really interesting community-oriented stuff.

Red Herring: "Charging a subscription fee to its users, for instance, could allow Napster to pay the industry a healthy percentage to stay in business. But so far, Mr. Barry says his entreaties have fallen on deaf ears."

Permanent link to archive for Wednesday, August 02, 2000. Wednesday, August 02, 2000

Jon Udell's opus Permanent link to this item in the archive.

Jon Udell: Internet Groupware for Scientific Collaboration.

Broad coverage of the tools we love, and ones we've never even heard of. Great report. Bookmark it.

Mac Radio Permanent link to this item in the archive.

Jake posted an RFC for the plan for Radio UserLand/Mac. I gave him the go-ahead. With any luck he'll have it in a couple of days and then we'll be doing the whole thing cross-platform.

President Ford Permanent link to this item in the archive.

On my Blogger site, below, I posted a link with a silly comment about former President Gerald Ford's illness. At the time they said it was a cold. Later they said it was a stroke. I felt so bad about this. I wish him the best, get well soon.

He's 87 years old and frail. I actually shook his hand once, when he was President, and he came to speak at Tulane. He said something nice about our school. Not many people did in those days.

People always laughed at him, but he's a nice guy and he became President in a shitty way. (He also pardoned Tricky Dick, so let's not go overboard.)

Our inspiration? Permanent link to this item in the archive.

Some people think that the Radio.exe icon is Gerald Ford. I don't think so.

More friendly mind bombing Permanent link to this item in the archive.

Now you can see the last 25 songs I've played.

The signed-on users list has been updated, it now has a pointer to each user's history XML file. Each user also has a userAgent attribute.

Mark your calendars Permanent link to this item in the archive.

On Saturday August 19, I'm moderating a star-studded panel Internet music execs at the Bandwidth Conference in SF, we'll talk about The Fan of the Future.

On Tuesday August 29, I'm doing a lunch session at Seybold, also in SF, talking about the lessons of Napster for the publishing industry.

Misc flames and pointers Permanent link to this item in the archive.

Reuters: Apple sues unknown trade secret leaker.

Gartner: Microsoft retires COM.

John Montgomery, Microsoft's marketing czar for COM and .NET, wrote a whitepaper about COM's future existence in the context of .NET. I never thought for a minute that COM was gone, in fact, we're just starting to really use COM in our programming at UserLand.

Mark Allerton: "They can deny it as many times as they like, but it won't make it any less true."

Regardless, Montgomery's whitepaper provides a fresh perspective on Dot-Net. A high-level runtime for scripting. Good idea. In a couple of years they might catch up with Frontier 1.0.

Have you ever gotten an email from Mikhail Gorbachev?

Dan Gillmor: "Instead of pointing multiple cameras at the convention floor and streaming the images to our computer screens, Web journalists should be looking at the issues -- at what will happen if we elect these people and what has brought our society to the point where we are."

LA Times: Is a stitch online a crime?

WSJ: Microsoft cracks down on software piracy.

First there was Blogger, now there's NewsBlogger, a collaboration between Pyra and Moreover.

I updated my Blogger site using NewsBlogger! Coool.

Novobot is a "smart headline viewer."

News.Com: "A team of IBM summer interns has created a free, new tool that eases the task of writing Linux-based software."

Permanent link to archive for Tuesday, August 01, 2000. Tuesday, August 01, 2000

Today's piece Permanent link to this item in the archive.

DaveNet: Where's the messiah?

Afternoon mind bomb Permanent link to this item in the archive.

As promised this morning, now you can tell, in real-time, what I'm listening to. Here's the XML file that contains that info.

Note that there's room for everyone who's signed on to say the same thing. And there's room for an artist and album, in addition to the name of the song.

An update for all Radio UserLand bootstrappers just went out, so they can join the mind bombers parade too.

Afternoon mind links Permanent link to this item in the archive.

What are the Shadow Conventions?

The Economist: "Music lovers wanting to collect songs on their computers—hardly an unreasonable request—have little choice but to do so with Napster and its like." Bravo!

Reuters: "'Nobody thinks the technology is going away. The point is to win the suit and keep the venture capitalists away from it,' said another record executive."

SF Chronicle: Napster traffic booming.

Why? Permanent link to this item in the archive.

Some have asked why I told the story of the economics of UserLand yesterday. Instead flip it around.

Not telling the story created an imbalance that was felt in a bunch of ways. How can you understand my POV without understanding that I was writing checks until 1998, and trying to stay in the black since then.

How else could you get that I totally sympathize with the musicians? We think they're getting rich. It takes so much energy to let that myth continue. I want musicians to tell the true story, well I had to do it too. There's no shame here. To solve the problem first we have to know what it is.

We're now in the midst of a true revolution. It makes me happy. This is why I do software, for the great open spaces that my mind loves to figure out. It doesn't matter if truckloads of money ever show up, the amazing thing is, we don't need them. It's all going to happen anyway.

So, let's have a new mind bomb every day this month.

What's a mind bomb?

Read on..

Morning stuff Permanent link to this item in the archive.

Good morning and Happy August! Let's have a BBQ, go to the beach, play with the kids, and make kick-ass software.

They're talking about playlist software on Live365.Com. I think they'd like what we're doing. Interesting, I know two of the people on the management team. Small world. Hey they're in Foster City, only 25 minutes away, just like Napster. Silicon Valley North.

Flip-flop. "Pop’s creative mission has undergone what Mr. Grazer calls 'a full 180.' Rather than be the exclusive province of the existing Hollywood creative community, Pop now says it wants to make its digital canvas available to everyone."

OK, yesterday we got the connection with the aggregator smoothed out so it still works if you switch IP addresses. Now I'm going to take another step, if everything goes well, by the end of the day you'll be able to go to a Web page to see what I'm listening to, in real time. So, in addition to a song of the day, you'll have a song of the moment. And it'll be 24-by-7, even if I'm not working, there's no reason my system can't be queuing up the tunes. Right? Yeah.

BTW, everything we're doing is open and documented, shipped in source code, using XML-RPC which is pretty well deployed. In other words, even if Radio UserLand isn't your favorite playlist software, you'll be able to participate, if the developer of your favorite software works with these formats and protocols.

Here's a great story. EFF detonates a mind bomb in court. I agree with that characterization and fully support them. Websites are definitely a form of creative expression, are playlists and software. Personally I like to create mind bombs too, and I am also a user of mind bombs. Keep em comin.

We're still looking for nirvana in Windows music playing apps. In this DG message I explain what it takes to rule our world from a music-playing standpoint. A simple COM interface. It might already exist? Amazingly Microsoft doesn't do this in their music player app. I thought they had scripting religion baked into the company. Where do I want to go today? Believe it or not, COM.

Mac users who want to get in the Radio UserLand club early, check out Sam Devore's site. Along with Sean Elfstrom, he really pushed it yesterday and has Macs playing music now.

Where will all this lead? Right now the music industry pays the radio industry to promote their music, and the radio industry pays back to the music industry. In the future, we will all promote the music we love. Alliances will form, artist-to-fan. Some of the more clued-in artists will realize that they could create new art for this medium. I once thought this will never happen, now I think it might happen this month.

IBM: Messaging, the transport part of the XML puzzle. "Need help sorting out XML messaging protocols? This article looks at major transport-level options and compares how they accomplish transferring XML between parties reliably. You'll find an overview of the approaches of XML-RPC, SOAP, WDDX, ebXML, and JMS as they apply to XML transport, with simple example code."

Brent is on vacation this week, but he's still drinking coffee and doing his weblog where he says he reads Scripting News, just like the morning paper. Here's something your morning paper doesn't do, it doesn't greet you by name. Hi Brent, hope you're enjoying your time off. We miss you!


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